Condos Denver

Condo owners cool in pool -
Water reels in residents

The Denver Post: April 14, 2007

By Tom LaRocque
Special to The Denver Post

Condo buyers arrive at high-rise buildings expecting certain benefits. Spectacular views, built-in health clubs and walk-to-work convenience are just part of the deal for $300 a square foot.

Now more than in the past, killer swimming pools have become a vital part of that potion.

For example, the new luxury development called Watermark that is still under construction in Denver's historic Baker neighborhood will have what its marketers describe as Denver's only "infinity edge" swimming pool.

When the project is finished in November, owners of the 90 luxury condos and brownstones at West Fourth Avenue and Acoma Street will be able to look west from the deck, 77 feet above ground, and see a pool surface that blends seamlessly with mountains on the horizon.

Waterfalls will spill into narrow channels below on the pool's west and south sides, where sunbathers can dip their feet in water.

The objective was to create an ambience of water, like an oasis in the desert, but doing so required a zoning variance because of concerns that someone could fall off the edge.

Such fears are unwarranted - the absent edge is an illusion created by architects from Fentress Bradburn, said developer Agatha Kessler. Creating that illusion cost her company $1 million.

"It is far more costly for us to put a pool at this elevation than at ground level," Kessler said.

Pool at the Pinnacle

Another seventh-floor outdoor pool is planned as a luxury amenity for owners at The Pinnacle at City Park, a 286-unit residential complex being developed by Opus Northwest. Two residential towers will be joined by a seven-story "base" building topped by an outdoor pool that connects with an indoor fitness center.

Nearby barbecue grills and a gas-fueled fire pit will provide owners with a gathering spot.

At least 60 percent of the Pinnacle's residents are expected to be "empty nesters or people buying a second home," said Scott Menefee, director of real-estate development for Opus Northwest.

For those buyers - many of whom have lived in the suburbs - a pool is a sought-after luxury. "It's a very big draw for a condo project."

Pools make economic sense only for large residential projects, says Andy Heins, director of Riverfront Park sales for East West Partners. The company has about 10 high-rise buildings in Denver's Central Platte Valley, some still in development. Only the largest will have a pool.

The Glass House, now about 50 percent occupied, consists of 389 units in two shimmering 23-story towers overlooking Commons Park. They're linked by a multistory base building that is topped by a pool area that provides an arresting view of the mountains and downtown Denver.

Design challenge

The pool area is designed for socializing, says Heins. Its immaculate deck, lined with redwood furniture, is resortlike. To the west is a mountain view and to the east is a vast dirt lot that will become the Union Station neighborhood.

The L-shaped outdoor pool is 75 feet long and wide enough for three or four swimming lanes. Casual bathers can congregate in the nook where they won't interfere with lap swimmers.

Continuum Partners is the creative force behind a year-round outdoor pool that will knit together its Kent Place development at South University Avenue and East Hampden Avenue in Denver.

In an English-garden setting surrounded by 19th century manor-style homes, a superheated slab beneath the 75-foot outdoor lap pool and a snow-melting deck keep the amenity available 365 days a year.

"It was a unique design challenge," said Continuum development director Kevin Foltz. "People will definitely use it as long as they don't have to traipse through the snow."

Walls in the pool area will complement the stone walls of the 45 townhomes. A movable glass wall separating the pool from a fitness center can be opened to unite the two in nice weather.

Swimming in suburbia

Farther west, at the Village of Five Parks in Arvada, a pool serves as the center of the community. The 5-year-old tract, which will include 900 detached homes and townhomes when it is completed, is the work of Colorado-based Village Homes.

Marketing vice president Jennifer Lambert-Pingrey said the start of summer is marked every Memorial Day with a party at the pool clubhouse, as will the end of summer be marked every Labor Day. Summer concerts are held in an amphitheater adjacent to the pool. Residents can watch those concerts on the lawn or from chaise lounges on the pool deck.

The pool area includes a spray park, a glorified lawn sprinkler set up for kids and a toddlers pool.

Pool amenities are important at many of Village Homes' developments. At Observatory Park in Fort Collins, a building near the pool contains a working observatory developed in partnership with Front Range Community College.

At the Idyllwilde development in Parker, an elaborate kidney-shaped pool has play features for children.

Even residents who don't swim appreciate the pool as a place to entertain family and friends, said Lambert-Pingrey.

Developers of the Breakers Resort have known that for years. The 1,523-unit apartment complex near suburban Glendale includes seven buildings and seven ground-level outdoor pools. One is large enough for lap swimming and is open to all residents. The others are intended more for socializing, with access to each limited to the residents of one building.

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