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Cycling: Cruise, new Denver development, features free bikes, bike-themed artwork

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Add this to the growing list of signs that Denver is becoming more of a bike city: A local developer is now promoting a new apartment building as a bike-themed project. That means free bikes for tenants, bike-themed artwork in the interior, bike storage and even a bike repair room. And the motivation behind Dan Scheutz's project is pretty simple: This guy really likes bikes.

The project, called Cruise, is the brainchild of Schuetz, a project manager with the Nichols Partnership, a real estate developer based in Denver.

The site in City Park West, at 1899 Gaylord Street, was formerly a University of Denver building that sat vacant for several years before the Nichols Partnership bought it.

Schuetz was biking by the site when he had the idea for a conversion.

"I was literally riding down the street.... It was a little bit blighted...and it was for sale," he says. "It's not a great building for an office building, but it's a fantastic neighborhood to live in."

The building featured a unique structure, with bay windows that created natural separations for apartments, he recalls.

Construction began about a year ago and he is now pre-leasing the building's apartments -- 61 total, including a mix of studio spaces and one-bedrooms.

"I like to ride my bicycle everywhere. I'm a bicycle nut," says Schuetz, 38. "I like all aspects of cycling...and I figured I could incorporate bikes into the project. I wanted to make it a place that might appeal to cyclists."

That's why everyone who signs a lease will get a free cruiser bike, he says.

Continue to read more about the Cruise development. Additionally, he will commission bike-related art in five different locations in the building. The deadline to submit artwork has passed and he is planning to announce winners this month.

"It has to be bicycle-themed, and I want it to be created by a local artist," says Schuetz, noting that he has already designated spaces for this art in specific spots in the building.

Even the large elevators in the building will accomodate bikes, he adds.

"I want people to feel comfortable bringing their bike right in the lobby," he says.

Schuetz says that he thinks now is the perfect time to develop this kind of project, given the growing momentum around cycling in the city.

"I went to get tied into that crowd. It's an important crowd here in Denver and it's getting bigger every year," he says. "Why not reach out to that market directly?"

That's also why he decided to name the project Cruise. "We think that cruiser bikes are synonymous with urban fun and sustainability -- it's a bit of an overused word, but bikes really are sustainable."

Other aspects of the site and its construction are green, too, he says, pointing out that the building uses efficient heating and cooling systems, low-VOC paints as part of an environmentally friendly project developed through "adaptive reuse" -- converting a preexisting structure.

"Right off the bat, we're way ahead," he says.

The structure has been around since 1969, and was at one point an assisted-living facility before becoming a research-and-development site. It then sat vacant for several years before Schuetz and his team purchased it.

Residents will start moving in next year.

Attracting a lot of people with common interests should help create more of a sense of community in the space than typical residential buildings, he believes.

"I have not heard of any building with a bicycle theme or anything close to it," he says. "I think this is the apartment equibvaent of an authentic, local place."

More from our Environment archive: "Laura Baker: Fundraiser for much-loved bike advocate seriously injured in crash"

Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin. E-mail the author at Sam.Levin@Westword.com.

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