By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
With his pompadour hair and penchant for large, gold rings, "Dealin' Doug" is a familiar sight to local television viewers, many of whom have grown up listening to the fast-talking Moreland loudly hawk ALPINE! BUICK! PONTIAC! GMC! cars and trucks for his many dealerships across the Front Range. The auto industry had made Moreland a millionaire several times over, but he liked the idea of breaking into the urban real-estate game. By September 2004, the parties had reached an agreement on the Cedar project: Moreland and Manoogian would put in $4.8 million to buy the property, Raymond would pay to build the project, and Osborn would manage the construction.
Where others saw obstructions or risk, Osborn saw opportunity. In the blocks surrounding Coors Field, for example, developers had been reluctant to build condos on the expensive property until they were absolutely confident the market would support it. Osborn worked a deal with the owners of the Breckenridge Brewery to move their brewing operations from the warehouse attached to their restaurant at 2220 Blake Street so that a mixed-use project could be built on the corner lot, with retail space on the bottom and 27 units on top. The prospect of changing the face of the Ballpark neighborhood convinced investors like Kerry Hicks, CEO of Golden-based hospital ratings company Health Grades, to kick in millions. The $14 million Diamond Lofts had its groundbreaking in August 2004. Osborn tapped his wife to handle all of the marketing and sales.
For a developer who'd completed his first project just a few years earlier, Osborn was moving up fast. And he already had his eyes on something much bigger.
The guy who brought it to me was a sub-contractor I had hired to do some excavation. He says, 'I've got this property you've got to see,'" Osborn remembers. "I'm like, 'Yeah, yeah, it's probably something not even worth it.' But then he takes me down there, and I couldn't believe it. This dirt-digging contractor had this amazing land right downtown."
The property, at 2001 Lincoln Street, was a parking lot, and not a very good parking lot at that. Situated awkwardly at a triangle where two city grids converge, the half-acre lot on the northeast edge of the business district was surrounded on all sides by four busy streets. The surrounding blocks were a no-man's-land of asphalt serving the Monday-through-Friday parking needs of downtown office workers. But there was a light-rail stop adjacent to the lot and, even in late 2004, Osborn could see that it had potential.
"Angela and I would go down there and park in the lot and just sit there for hours," he remembers. They looked up in the sky and imagined what could be there. Granite countertops. Jacuzzis. Spin classes. A residential tower hadn't been built downtown in over twenty years; they knew it would work if they went fancy and went tall. "I said, 'If we're going to do this, we've got to bet the ranch,'" says Osborn. "She said, 'Well, if we have to move back to an apartment, that's okay."
When it came time to sign on investors for his luxury-tower project, Osborn says he decided to leave out Raymond, his longtime business partner, and instead take the deal only to Moreland and Manoogian. By February 2005, the trio had formed a partnership whereby Moreland, as the primary equity partner, would buy the triangular lot for $1.9 million and provide funds to EO, LLC — the corporate entity that Osborn set up for this project — to build a sales center in an old building across the street and begin the process of securing entitlements, engineering and design. In all, Osborn received a $3.5 million promissory note for the project's preliminary stages.
Buchanan Yonushewski Group, the same architects hired for the Diamond Lofts, were signed on to do the design. What they came up with, explains Brad Buchanan, was a building that was tailor-made for the location. "We weren't looking to mimic another structure," he says. "It was really an outgrowth of the site." Osborn likened the design to buildings he had seen in cities with distinct high-rise cityscapes, such as Vancouver and Chicago.
When the plans were unveiled five months later, the price of One Lincoln Park was an estimated $140 million. But with Angela and co-broker Julie Gelfond handling sales, 80 percent of the units were reported to have been pre-sold. The date to begin construction was moved forward to fall 2006.
But while Lincoln Park was going well, the partnership had hit some rough patches at the Cedar project. Raymond began to notice expenses that he hadn't approved. Osborn doesn't deny that funds totaling $62,000 went his way, but he says Raymond was aware of that arrangement and had condoned it.
"I came up through the world of contracting," Osborn explains. "We did a bid, like every other project. If I'm able to structure the subcontractors in a way that comes way below cost, then that was to be my payment. I've never worked for free on a project, ever. Why would I start then?"
A similar disagreement over unauthorized withdrawals arose over One Lincoln Park. A new operating agreement had to be drafted with Moreland and Manoogian just before the March 26 groundbreaking. That ceremony was attended by Mayor John Hickenlooper, along with many members of the downtown development community. With prices from $300,000 to $3 million for a 6,000-square-foot penthouse, the project was clearly aiming for the wealthy. Amenities included a seventh-floor pool and park area, a 24-hour door attendant, valet service, an owners' club, gourmet kitchen and fitness center complete with a Pilates studio and steam rooms. The project was the first of several residential downtown tower projects announced that year, including the now-almost-completed Spire, the under-construction Four Seasons, the stalled W Hotel and the defunct 1400 Lawrence.