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Posted: November 01, 2013

Real estate: A tale of five cities

From Denver to Durango, new projects signal developers’ renewed confidence

Mike Taylor

Boulder’s residential market has rebounded as well, with the number of homes sold up 7.3 percent for the first half of the year. The median sales price is up 9.2 percent to $415,000 compared to 2012.

“The hottest part of the Boulder market is anything in town that’s beneath $600,000 or $700,000,” said Duane Duggan, a broker with RE/MAX of Boulder. “If you back up to open space, it’s extremely hot.”

Duggan doesn’t expect the market will be significantly harmed by the devastating flooding in September.

“People still want to live in Boulder and there are still jobs in Boulder,” he said. “It [puts] a damper on business, but there will be a lot of jobs created to clean this mess up and rebuild.”

— Margaret Jackson

DURANGO

Southwest Colorado:  Durango’s Sustainable Three Springs Community

The Southern Ute Tribe is moving ahead as master developer of the 680-acre Three Springs master-planned community.  Just seven miles from Durango’s city center, the development debuted in 2006 with the opening of the new $76 million Mercy Regional Medical Center.  A year later, new homes were already occupied by dozens of the hospital’s 1,000 employees, as well as by La Plata County young families, empty nesters, rural residents and out-of-staters.

“Our goal was to first deliver the infrastructure to the hospital, and then follow that up with homes for hospital employees and other customers of the Durango housing market,” said Three Springs Real Estate Portfolio Manager Tim Zink.

Three Springs has approval for more than 2,200 residential units, including single-family homes (current market “sweet spot” is about $300,000), and multifamily dwellings. Commercial development is underway with 362,000 square feet of hospital and medical offices. There’s an additional 82,000 square feet of retail and office space in the Mercado District. Tenants include State Farm, Progressive Insurance, American Home Patient, Anytime Fitness, Alpine Bank, Digs Restaurant and Bar and others interested in leveraging hospital-related business.

The community’s traditional neighborhood development with alley-accessed garages, pedestrian-friendly walkways, pocket parks and trails, has proven popular.  Dozens of residents walk to work at the hospital and nearby services.

“Part of the TND (Traditional Neighborhood Development) design is to live, work and recreate in the same general area so you don’t have to drive,” Zink explained, adding that a unique aspect of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s operating philosophy is to support smart development.  That includes green building standards, recyclable materials, an on-site construction recycling center, and storm water redirected from the roof to planters rather than dumped in the streets.

“We put a lot of thought
into how we impact the land,” Zink said.

­— Becky Hurley

COLORADO SPRINGS

Despite natural disasters and economic struggles, Colorado Springs region rebounds

Colorado Springs’ commercial and residential real estate markets have seen significant improvement this year, due primarily to an infusion of resources by local rather than national or regional investors. 

As a result Turner Commercial Research reported that through the second quarter, commercial property sales rose 44 percent compared to the same period in 2012.

Residential sales also benefited from a double-digit decrease in reported foreclosures and a solid rise in new home sales. Single-family permits in August rose, year-over-year, by 36 percent. 

Property owners and brokers leaned in, facing shifting national economic headwinds and challenges from Mother Nature.  Losses sustained during the Black Forest fire and subsequent flooding as well as federal budget cutbacks to the military and civilian defense sectors contributed to a less-than-full economic recovery.  By fourth quarter, Colorado Springs’ unemployment hovered near 8 percent.

Still, bright spots outnumbered clouds on the economic horizon, both in the commercial and residential sectors.

T5@Colorado “Vineyard” Data Center

One of the western United States’ greenest data center campuses has broken ground in south Colorado Springs.  The 64-acre T5@Colorado “Vineyard” project was annexed by the city council in 2010 and approved as a special taxing district with public improvement fee funding.  At build-out, the complex will represent about $1 billion in investment according to managing partner Vince Colarelli. 

So far at least three letters of intent have been submitted for the first building. Colarelli is in active negotiations with several more prospective clients for additional buildings.  Moreover, the project has received funding through a capital partnership with Iron Point Partners in Washington, D.C. Developed in conjunction with other data center campuses, T5@Colorado will become part of a national portfolio.

Leasing candidates for similar data centers are typically Fortune 100 companies.

“The Vineyard data center park will take advantage of free cooling and gray water to be one of the region’s greenest data center projects,” Colarelli said, noting that leasing activity has been even stronger than anticipated.

“Demand in our market for this use outpaces supply by 17 percent,” he said.  “Colorado Springs is very underserved.”

University Village Colorado Shopping Center

University Village Colorado Shopping Center, the $100 million retail centerpiece of a revitalized North Nevada Avenue corridor near the University of Colorado Colorado Springs campus, headlined commercial development this year. Launched in 2009, the project is the product of a partnership between city leaders, developers and the university.  The shopping center also benefited from Colorado Springs Urban Renewal

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Mike Taylor is the managing editor of ColoradoBiz. He writes about small-business money issues and how startups are launched. Email him at mtaylor@cobizmag.com.

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