A small town-based bank on the state’s Eastern Plains has made a big investment in Colorado Springs’ sizzling apartment market and its booming downtown area.
Eastern Colorado Bank of Cheyenne Wells paid $ 12.8 million on Tuesday to buy Casa Mundi, a four-story, 27-unit apartment building at 418 S. Tejon St. – which is part of a wave of new multi-family projects from downtown in recent years and located along South Tejon Restaurant and Entertainment Hall.
The deal includes just over 5,400 square feet of retail space that makes up the ground floor of Casa Mundi.
The bank bought Casa Mundi from a local group made up of Colorado Springs project developer Darsey Nicklasson, commercial brokers Sam Cameron and Kevin Butcher, and an unidentified fourth party. Places Management, a limited liability company operated by Nicklasson, will continue to manage Casa Mundi.
The deal, announced by bank CEO Greg Weed and Nicklasson, completes a long-standing relationship between Eastern Colorado Bank and Casa Mundi. The bank had provided a construction loan and permanent financing for the project, which opened in March 2020.
Eastern Colorado Bank operates a branch in Colorado Springs at 444 E. Pikes Peak Ave. at the east end of downtown, which is one of its six locations in Colorado. The bank also owns and rents a triplex, a duplex and two single-family homes near the city center, Weed said.
The purchase of Casa Mundi fits with the bank’s goal of investing in properties in the communities it serves, he said.
âInvesting in properties like this that promote housing is just something we set out to do as a bank,â Weed said. âHousing is important to us, so we’re involved in it at every level, from construction loans to first-time home loans … to permanent loans and home ownership.
“Investing in the communities in which we have a vested interest, it makes sense,” he added.
The location of Casa Mundi was also attractive, he said. A 261-room double-brand Marriott hotel is slated to open in 2022 just north of Casa Mundi on the 400 block of South Tejon, while the renovated Trolley building on the 500 block is home to several restaurants and bars. The new multi-purpose outdoor stadium at Weidner Field is two blocks west.
Casa Mundi is also in the heart of what downtown developers call the New South End; the area several blocks southeast of Vermijo and Cascade avenues is home to a growing number of restaurants, nightclubs and other uses, where area residents can walk or cycle as part of a way of life said urban.
âThis makes it a very prime location and I think that’s what was so appealing to Darsey’s group in their original construction of the property, was the development in this area,â Weed said.
Nicklasson said Casa Mundi was not for sale and his ownership group planned to hold the project for a few years before selling it.
But Eastern Colorado Bank has approached the owners of Casa Mundi about a sale, Nicklasson said. She and her partners were receptive due to their familiarity with the bank, which Nicklasson says loves the city and its downtown area.
Eastern Colorado “has the same vision, shares the vision for downtown Colorado Springs, and shares a principled business philosophy for caring for your residents and doing good for your community,” said Nicklasson. “It was a good fit.”
Casa Mundi is 100% occupied, Nicklasson and Weed said, although the property’s website says two apartments will be available in early October. These announcements show that a one-bedroom, one-bath, 600-square-foot unit will be rented for $ 1,915 per month, while a two-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,124 square foot apartment will cost 2,615. $ per month.
âIt says a lot about the Colorado Springs economy and how much we’ve bounced back,â Nicklasson said of the heavy occupation of Casa Mundi. Some of the Casa Mundi tenants, she added, are newcomers to Colorado Springs who have come looking for work.
Nicklasson said talks are underway with potential users for the nearly 5,400 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. The space can be rented as a single unit or split into three storefronts, she said.
The owners of Casa Mundi wanted the right users, Nicklasson said. For example, a bar, with patrons spilling out onto the street at 2 a.m., would not be an appropriate use, she said.
Instead, she would prefer a cafe, bakery, cafe, pet store, or men’s or women’s clothing store – uses that would benefit Casa Mundi tenants and other residents on the south side of downtown.
When it opened, Casa Mundi joined several downtown apartment projects that have opened, are under construction or on the drawing board.
Nicklasson and Kathy Loo, a businesswoman and philanthropist from Springs, developed the 33-unit Blue Dot Place on South Nevada Avenue, which opened in 2016 and sold in November for $ 13 million.
Other downtown apartment projects now open include the 177-unit Mae on Cascade and 171-unit 333 ECO, developed by Springs real estate companies Nor’wood Development Group and Griffis / Blessing.
Greystar Real Estate Partners of South Carolina has started construction of the 321-unit Fiona Apartments and is preparing to start the 277-unit Ensley Apartments.
Two other projects are under construction: Nor’wood’s 322 154-unit Vermijo Apartments and 217-unit Pikes Peak Plaza Apartments, built by Denver developer Taylor Turano in partnership with longtime Springs developer Jeff Dunn. and his son Ryan Dunn of Denver.
Weidner Apartment Homes in the Seattle suburb is also planning more than 1,200 units near the downtown multi-purpose stadium that it has helped finance and develop.
Nicklasson, meanwhile, has also launched two apartment projects in the south-east of the city; the 223-unit Mosaica is under construction and is expected to open in 2022, while construction has started on the 150-unit Kaleidos, which could potentially be available to tenants next year.