Brothers Chris and John Leevers have obtained the financing they need for the $10.5 million redevelopment of the old Chambers Place shopping center in northeast Denver’s Montbello neighborhood.
The brothers received a $4.9 million bank loan commitment from Wells Fargo that covered about half of the total project cost. They searched for more than two years for the additional permanent financing for the property. Ultimately, Colorado Enterprise Fund filled the gap by assembling and coordinating three non-profit investors that are providing $3.5 million in a shared second mortgage: Colorado Enterprise Fund, $1 million; Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, $1.5 million and The Colorado Trust, $1 million.
The project will improve retail access to fresh and health foods, increase healthy eating and active living and encourage economic development in a formerly vacant retail center in a lower-income neighborhood.
“The community really needed this project to once again have access to healthy food,” says Ceyl Prinster, president and CEO of Colorado Enterprise Fund. “Chambers Place is an exciting model of mission-driven lenders collaborating on an impact investment resulting in improved health and economic vitality to an under-resourced community.”
The property is a shopping center that originally was anchored by a Safeway store that abandoned it more than four years ago, with other tenants departing soon after.
The Leevers, who own the Chambers Place property, are part of a fourth-generation grocery family. Their company, Leevers Supermarkets Inc., is 100percent employee owned with nearly 200 members and about 65 percent minority ownership. the company generally operates under the name Save-A-Lot, which is the anchor tenant in the redevelopment.
The Save-A-Lot will provide healthy food at affordable prices, sometimes as much as 40 percent lower than mainline grocery stores. The entire project is expected to create more than 80 jobs. Other tenants will include a Planet Fitness and a DaVita clinic. The center also has a well-established high-quality child care center, Early Success Academy, which is owned by long-time Colorado Enterprise Fund customer Diana Gaddison and serves many families in the area.
“The project model of a grocery store that creates quality jobs and has a wide variety of fresh food optoins at affordable prices, combine with the overall health, fitness and family orientation of the tenant mix, is the gold standard of impact we want to see in a project like this.”