By Shelley Widhalm

Does the word “apartment” fit with granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and crown molding? Yep.

McWHINNEY already has 25 deposits for its first luxury apartment complex in Centerra that will have 20 units ready for occupancy next week.

The Loveland-based real estate developer is holding a grand opening Saturday for Lake Vista Apartments, a 17-building, 303-unit apartment complex on the east shore of Equalizer Lake that cost $45 million to build.

“As part of a master plan community, which Centerra is, it’s important to provide a lot of different options for people who live and work in a community,” said Jay Hardy, vice president and general manager of Centerra.

Centerra, a 3,000-plus acre commercial, residential and office development at Interstate 25 and U.S. 34, has two other apartment complexes, that of Eagle Ridge, consisting of 168 units built in 2001, and The Reserve, with 150 units built in the early 2000s.

Lake Vista differs from the other complexes by offering a luxury product with individual unit amenities, as well as a nearly 7,000-square foot resort-like clubhouse with country-club style features. Those include a cyber cafe, a theater room, a 24-hour fitness center, conference facilities and a commercial-scale demonstration kitchen.

In addition, there is a community garden, outdoor dining and entertaining areas, and access to walking and biking trails, wetlands and lakes.

“We pride ourselves in offering a social, resort-feel to our community,” said Mike Hill, senior director of multi-family development and operations for McWHINNEY.

In March, McWHINNEY began construction on the apartment complex and expects to finish by August 2011, creating what the developer hopes will be the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified apartment community in Northern Colorado.

It received help through the city of Loveland, getting a waiver of about $1.8 million on its projected fees. However, it still projected to pay about $2.7 million into the city’s coffers, according to figures at its groundbreaking.

McWHINNEY expects to have another 20 units ready for move-in by the end of the month, Hill said. “Forty to 60 units a month will be delivered until the projects is fully built out,” he said.

The units, available in 16 different floor plans, range from studio to three bedrooms with prices in the low $700s up to $1,700 a month. McWHINNEY expects that by the end of next year to rent out at least 95 percent of the units, resulting in a fully stable occupancy rate, Hill said, adding that a low vacancy rate in Northern Colorado will help with the rentals.

“We anticipate averaging 20 leases a month moving forward,” Hill said. The occupancy rate likely will be helped by the number of employees at Centerra, which has 8,000, including 1,000 that were added in the past year, Hill said.

“We’re very confident about the low vacancy rates in Loveland,” Hardy said. “This is a new product type in Northern Colorado. It will be the nicest apartment complex available.”