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Bully for beauty

By Tony Kindelspire
The Daily Times-Call

LONGMONT — “Space for rent.”

Longmont’s most distinctive new building is ready for occupancy, but at this point, it’s still little more than an attractive shell waiting to be filled.

“I would say that we had hoped to have more success in leasing the office space at this time,” said Cotton Burden, manager of RLET Properties LLC and the man who built Roosevelt Place at the southeast corner of Longs Peak Avenue and Coffman Street.

The difficulty in finding tenants for the $4 million building, Burden said, “is a function of the economy.”

“We have had people be very excited about the building, but we really haven’t found very many who have that sense of urgency,” he said.

But Burden said those who have viewed and toured the glass and brick, three-story building with the statue of President Teddy Roosevelt out front have been impressed.

In fact, just seeing the place led to Burden’s first tenant signing: Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe, which is opening at the end of August.

“Camille’s was looking to open up a couple of franchises in the north metro area, and they just fell in love with the building,” Burden said.

Tim and Cyndie Andrews, a Thornton husband-and-wife team, said they believed Longmont would be an ideal place to open their “fast-casual” restaurant, their first franchise with the company and the first Camille’s in this area.

Previously the only Camille’s in Colorado was in Fort Collins.

“Oh man, we looked at probably six locations in Longmont,” Tim Andrews said. “Everything from the west side, where there’s been a lot of development ... Then we looked at Main Street and the Main Street area, and Roosevelt Place just stood out as a great building and a great place to be in.”

Most restaurants of the “fast-casual” variety that have opened in the past several years in Longmont — Noodles & Co., Wahoo’s Fish Tacos and the Bear Rock Cafe — have chosen to locate in the southwest part of town. But Cyndie Andrews said she and her husband had a good feeling about their new location.

“We thought we would fill a void in downtown,” she said.

“Your instincts tell you to go where everyone else is, but everything we’ve seen has convinced us that this will be the right thing for us and the right thing for Longmont,” her husband added.

Camille’s will be situated on the west side of the building, occupying 2,500 square feet. An outside patio area will hold six tables, and the seven-day-a-week restaurant will ultimately employ about 30 full- and part-timers.

“It will take 12 to 15 people to take care of a There will be approximately 1,600 additional square feet on the ground floor — perhaps for a retail tenant, Burden said — and the remainder of the building will be office space. The base lease rate on the building ranges from $18.50 to $20.50 a square foot.

Apparently there is one other tenant who has signed a letter-of-intent to lease space, but until a lease is signed, Burden does not want to name names.

“We knew when we started this project that we were taking a risk,” he said. “We knew that the cost of construction and the cost of money (interest rates) were favorable. We knew the rental market was not so favorable.”

So even if it has to sit partially empty for a time, interest rates at a 40-year low make it a solid investment, Burden said.

Ken Kanemoto of the commercial service division of Prudential LTM Realtors is acting as broker on the property. He said it’s of no surprise that tenants are hard to come by.

“Office space is very slow right now and it has been for a while,” Kanemoto said. “It’s nothing particular to Longmont; I know it’s clear across the state.”

Just down the street at Fourth Avenue and Coffman Street, another attractive building, the Liberty Bank building still has office space for rent, and it’s been open for more than two years.

But Burden isn’t too concerned; he sees Roosevelt Place as another strong addition to a downtown area that is undergoing revitalization “in little ways.”

“I do think it’s becoming more vibrant,” Burden said. “I think it’s going in a real positive direction.”

And just as the sour economy didn’t frighten Burden away from his investment, neither did it frighten the Andrews, who plan to participate in Festival on Main on Aug. 22, and open their restaurant the next day.

“Obviously, it’s always a concern in trying to start a business in a downturn, but my belief is that if you’re a good businessperson, if you know what you’re doing, you’ll do well in any economy,” said Tim Andrews, whose background includes starting other businesses and work in engineering, construction and information technology.

Tony Kindelspire can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 291, or by e-mail at tkindelspire@times-call.com.