Local developers spending $10 million to buy, refurbish aging retail center
from the Denver Post
July 5, 2017 at 10:35 am
The Oneida Park shopping center in Park Hill is about to get a serious upgrade now that two local developers have purchased the retail area with an eye toward pumping millions into its resurgence.
Todd Snyder and Rick Firmine bought the shopping center on Oneida Street between 22nd and 23rd avenues this year, and say they’ll put $10 million toward the purchase and renovation of the block.
Snyder and Firmine have already leased space to Esters Neighborhood Pub, which will open its second location in Park Hill in 2018. Joining Esters will be an unnamed and new concept by Little Man Ice Cream that operations manager Loren Martinez said could open in spring 2018.
“They are putting lots of energy and lots of thought into the tenant mix,” Martinez said of Snyder and Firmine. “We’re excited on how they are going to come in and create a community destination. The center is surrounded by nothing but houses and kids. That’s our bread and butter.”
The purchase includes seven buildings on both sides of the street, excluding the Park Hill Motors building at the northeast corner, and Snyder and Firmine are advertising five vacancies ranging from 600 to 1,600 square feet.
They plan to convert a parking lot into a courtyard for events and a children’s play area. Little Man Ice Cream will have input and control over the courtyard for certain seasons (think a pumpkin patch in fall and Christmas tree lot in December). The buildings are set back from the road, which creates a block that’s conducive to hosting events.
“We’re really excited to own this thing because it’s both sides of the street. There’s a lot of opportunity to do some fun things,” Snyder said. “We really want it to be that neighborhood gathering place and to just serve that purpose in the Park Hill community.”
The first phase of work includes painting the buildings and replacing the signs. The turquoise roofs also will be repainted, and the well-known Oneida Park sign will be spruced up.
Snyder and Firmine have more than two decades of real estate and development experience between them. Snyder has been with NAI Shames Makovsky for 14 years in Denver, while Firmine completed more than $200 million in real estate deals in Las Vegas before recently returning to Denver. They were connected through mutual friends and had been looking for the right project to work on together. This center stood out because the buildings were owned by one owner and they were able to buy the entire center in one transaction.
“Todd and I have been chasing retail in Park Hill for a long time. It’s underserved. It’s one of the biggest submarkets in Denver,” Firmine said.
Most of the existing businesses, including Philly Cheese Steak and Beer Garden and Desmond Bar and Grill, will stay, Snyder said. Oneida Liquors is moving to the northeast corner of the block, and the 6-year-old Park Hill Veterinary Medical Center will expand, adding about 1,600 square feet (and three exam rooms to the current five).
Owner and veterinarian Margot Vahrenwald is happy to see coming changes and said the center needed an upgrade.
“I’m actually really excited about it. It’s something this area really needed,” she said. “To have a vision that creates a space for the neighborhood to use is awesome.”
Other businesses, including Allegra’s Pizza, will leave or close. The departure of Allegra’s opened the door for Esters, which specializes in pizza, Snyder said. The owner of Oneida Food Mart is weighing options, he said.
There were four vacant units when Snyder and Firmine bought the center, and they hope to attract a coffee shop and other service-related retailers.
“We’ve gotten a lot of great interest,” Firmine said. “We just want to make sure it’s good local groups.”
Resident Lyle Hansen, the area’s Greater Park Hill Board of Directors representative, is excited about the renovations. The Oneida Park center did well in the 1960s and 1970s, he said, but fell into disrepair shortly after. A rebound began about a decade ago.
There are shops in Stapleton and other nearby communities, he said, but also a need for retail in Park Hill.
“There’s lots of retail areas, but these little neighborhood centers are very important for us. We’re anxious to see them thrive,” Hansen said.