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9/25/2003

Property on display

By Tony Kindelspire
The Daily Times-Call

LONGMONT — The commercial vacancy rate in the Longmont Area Economic Council’s coverage area currently stands at 24.3 percent — more than 2.5 million square feet.

Wednesday, about 75 commercial brokers and developers from throughout the Denver metro area and Northern Colorado got an up-close look at much of that space in Longmont proper, as the LAEC sponsored its first-ever “real estate showcase.”

“It’s done in other communities but it’s the first time it’s ever been done in Longmont,” said Wendi Nafziger, vice president of the LAEC, adding that the tour is “to show brokers and developers opportunities for development in Longmont. A lot of people don’t think of Longmont as part of the metro area because we’re so far north.”

The day began with a 90-minute bus tour of available properties in Longmont, many of which are quite large, and ended with some pre-lunch comments from Mayor Julia Pirnack and Community Development Director Phil DelVecchio.

“On my bus I took a survey — who’s from where — and there were about a third from Denver, a third from Longmont, and a third from Northern Colorado,” said John Cody, president and CEO of the LAEC, which covers an area geographically equal to the St. Vrain Valley School District.

The tour not only touched on some of the existing vacant buildings but on vacant land that is zoned for commercial development — such as the 160 acres of the Clover Basin Business Park and the 135 acres acquired by the city in the Huff annexation.

Both are situated near the airport and North 75th Street and both are zoned business/light industrial.

The tour also passed some retail spaces, such as “The Crossings at Clover Basin,” at the southeast corner of Clover Basin Drive and Hover Street.

Stephen Tebo of Tebo Development Co. explained that the first phase of the 12-acre development is already under way, with seven acres that will feature a KeyBank, a 6,000-square-foot multi-use building, and several restaurant pads, two of which already have been leased to Texas Roadhouse and Red Robin.

Openings at the site will begin next spring, said Tebo, who is developing the property with David Chaknova of Nova Investments.

The LAEC focuses on primary employers, and retail development follows these primary jobs.

As DelVecchio told the audience at the Boulder County Business Center, the average household income in Longmont is nearly $73,000, making it very attractive to retailers.

In fact, he said, Boulder County’s income per capita is nearly a third higher than the national average.

“So the people that are interested in retail — the buying power in this market is very strong,” said DelVecchio.

Don Macy, developer of the St. Vrain Centre, which runs from Clover Basin Drive north to Home Depot, said he thought Wednesday’s showcase was a great idea.

“I think this has just been a great tour for Longmont and a great way to get Longmont more well-known throughout the entire county,” said the owner of Macy Development Co. “I’d like to see us do this again and I’d like to see us expand and cover the whole area.”

Retail, Macy said, is the hottest segment of the commercial real estate industry right now.

But it’s Cody’s hope that if the economy continues to pick up, more primary businesses will be thinking of the Longmont area as a place to expand or relocate to — more than thought about the city before Wednesday’s showcase.

“Let me just leave you with this thought,” Cody said. “Whatever your clients are interested in, please keep Longmont in mind.”

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