The farm animals and assorted farm implements are gone. So are the gazebo, gift and candy shops, old-time photo studios and the large, country-style restaurant that was the site of birthday, anniversary and family dinners for more than four decades.
But the barn at the former White Fence Farm is still there and has been transformed into a clubhouse at the center of what is now Novel White Fence Farm luxury apartments in Lakewood. The 202-unit complex by Crescent Communities is open for leasing and the first tenants have moved in.
Construction at the 7.37-acre property near the corner of West Jewell Avenue and South Sheridan Boulevard began in June 2021 after the settlement of a couple of lawsuits. Crescent Communities, based in Charlotte, N.C., and with offices and projects across the country, challenged a Lakewood City Council decision that would have applied a cap on residential growth even though the company’s permits were approved before the cap took effect.
Area homeowners’ groups sued the city based on its interpretation of zoning ordinances as applied to the development. An agreement in 2020 settled both lawsuits, allowing the project to proceed.
“There was definitely some contention at the beginning as to what was going to be built. I think the neighbors have become some of our biggest advocates of the project, especially once they’ve been able to tour the project,” said Ben Krasnow, managing director for Crescent’s mountain states area.
Changes that Crescent made to respond to neighbors’ concerns included reducing the number of units to 202 from 235 and reducing the number of stories to three from four in the two apartment buildings.
The centerpiece of the complex is the clubhouse, which was built in the early 1990s and housed a gift shop and other attractions. The refurbished building has a fitness center and several offices and co-working places on the second floor that residents can use.
“The barn really got run down after the business closed,” Krasnow said. “The fact that we were able to repurpose it and give this building a new life is incredible.”
The owners of the White Fence Farm restaurant announced in October 2018 that they were closing the business that had been drawing people with its fried chicken and corn fritters, petting zoo and tree-lined walkways for 45 years. The restaurant’s original owner, Charlie Wilson, started the business on the site of a working farm.
Crescent bought the site from C&P Properties LLC for $4.68 million. The clubhouse contains elements of its former use. A huge wagon wheel that served as a chandelier is mounted on a wall as part of the upscale rustic decor. Bookcases hold books and knickknacks from the restaurant’s heydays. The interior of the silo on the east end of the former barn provides a circular working space on the second floor and a fitness studio on the first floor.
Out the back doors of the clubhouse is a large patio with chairs, tables, grills and a pizza oven. Melissa Ryan with Weller, the management company, said an herb garden will be planted so people can use fresh ingredients.
An all-season outdoor pool and deck area is next to the patio. One of the big trees the developer conserved looms over the patio area.
A white fence still runs along the site’s west border.
Most of the units, about 67%, are one-bedroom. Roughly 26% are two-bedroom units and 7% are studios. The rents run from $1,695 to $3,000.
Krasnow said Crescent Communities was interested in the White Fence Farm site because of its proximity to downtown Denver, biking and hiking trails, the mountains and venues such as Red Rocks Amphitheatre. He said Crescent is “bullish” on the Denver market for the long term.
“There are still really strong fundamentals in Denver,” Krasnow said. “There’s healthy job growth, the quality of life is unbeatable.”
Crescent Communities has started leasing spaces in its 483-unit, 12-story Novel RiNo apartment building in Denver’s River North Art District.
The company recently announced that Chef Carlo Lamagna, a 2022 James Beard Award finalist who was also named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in 2021, plans to open a Filipino restaurant, Magna Kainan, at Novel RiNo in early 2024. Magna Kainan will be a sister restaurant to Magna Kusina, which Lamagna opened in Portland, Ore., in 2019.
Crescent Communities is also developing a 10-story, 261-unit building at 1557 N. Logan St., in the uptown part of Denver.
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