Asking price: $1.6 mill.

Unreal Estate: The $1.6 Million White Box

Home sales across the metro area may have all the momentum of a Nader presidential campaign, but developers along the Platte River continue to be manically upbeat. The glass boxes keep multiplying, and a penthouse in the Flour Mill Lofts has an asking price upwind of $3 million.

Joggers and dog walkers heading between Confluence Park and Cuernavaca have had a particularly surreal fantasy to contemplate: a sign in a parking lot on the west side of the river, just across the bridge from the Denver Skate Park, announces the impending arrival of a triplex called The Rapids. "Rare opportunity to live right on the Platte River," the pitch declares.

What's so special here is not just the price — between $1.165 and $1.6 million per unit, or $450 a square foot — but what you're getting for all those samoleans. According to the sales literature, "three fortunate buyers" will be purchasing "the flexibility to customize their unique waterfront homes."

You heard right. The interiors will be left in a "white box condition," so owners can choose their own layouts, finishes and systems. So $1.6 million just gives you the shell. You have to do some more shelling on your own if you want a finished home.

Or you could go with the alternative plan. There are plenty of brown cardboard boxes along other stretches of the river, and people inhabit them without paying for any interior design work at all. They may be homeless, but they, too, are enjoying the rare opportunity to live right on the river. – Alan Prendergast

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