Riverwalk Rescue

Monte Vista businesswoman resurrects high-end condos


Cheryl Santi loves her luxury riverside condo in Pueblo so much, she decided to buy the rest of the building. And she was just getting started.

Last week, the Monte Vista businesswoman confirmed she will follow through on a previous owner’s plan to construct upscale condos in the historic building at 102 S. Union Ave., alongside the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo.

Moreover, she isn’t going to wait until buyers are found before finishing each unit, which was the plan of the prior owner. She will build them now, she said.

Three of the 13 units are in place and occupied — Santi was among the first buyers when the original project launched in 2008 — and over the next four months crews will construct the remaining 10 units, including a nearly $1 million penthouse unit, she said.

Meanwhile, she continues to search for one or two restaurants to occupy the building’s first floor that opens to the Riverwalk. Another section of the first floor was purchased, refurbished and opened by Ameriprise Financial.

Santi said she and her husband, Alamosa area dentist and businessman Dr. Richard Santi, view the project as a way to help further the development of the Riverwalk and the city of Pueblo.

The 64-year-old said she first came to love Pueblo during visits as a child growing up in Walsenburg and, later, as a student at the former Southern Colorado State College.

After the Riverwalk was constructed and the original condo project announced, she found herself among the first in line for one of the units. The recent renovation of nearby Memorial Hall sealed the deal for her to move forward on the larger project, she said.

“I feel like this is a gift,” she said of the building and its proximity to the Riverwalk and Memorial Hall. “It’s like a piece of the city. I know something great is possible here. I hope I can do it.”
Santi is a longtime Monte Vista real estate agent who also has run a used car dealership and other businesses.

With limited development experience, she has assembled a project team largely from scratch, utilizing many Southern Colorado businesses.

Working with Quantum Realty of Pueblo, she’salready marketing her Bella Santi project at www.bellasantiliving.com. The website includes a high-quality video tour of the property, the Riverwalk area and the city of Pueblo.
Assisting the design of the condos is Hal Wilson of Creative Design in Alamosa. Besides the million-dollar penthouse, units will range in size from one bedroom to three bedrooms with price tags of $195,000 to $585,000. The building features an underground parking garage. She’s also engaged a small army of craftsmen and others to help with the project.

The original development stalled when the real estate market crashed and residential lending dried up. When work stopped, only the first condos, the remodeled building exterior and new infrastructure
such as plumbing and electrical work for the remaining units were in place.

The property went back to the lender, Colorado East Bank & Trust, and the Santis eventually approached the bank about buying the remaining condo spaces and building at a discounted price. The sale was finalized in December, she said.

Afterward, Santi began making frequent trips to Pueblo to gain feedback from the community about the project, finalize her plans and search for businesses to assist her.

“It’s like all of the right people showed up at the right time. Everybody has been so helpful and excited,” she said.

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