Moderator Katie Kruger, CEO of Denver Metro Assn. of Realtors, Keith Simon of Coventry/Ridge Gate, event chair Chris Weir, VP of CoBiz Financial, BMC Investments CEO Matt Joblon, Newmark Knight Frank Exec. Managing Director David Lee, and Project One VP Tristin Gleason presented an informative and memorable program on real estate impact in metro Denver. Photo by Freda Miklin
BY FREDA MIKLIN
On Aug. 24, the Denver Marriott South Park Meadows was filled with 300 leaders and executives in real estate, banking, engineering, higher education, health care, financial services and government for a reserved-seat 7 a.m. South Metro Denver Chamber program on impactful real estate projects in metro Denver, chaired by Co-Biz Financial V.P. Chris Weir.
Lead sponsor CSU College of Business was represented by its dean, Beth Walker, Ph.D., who opened the program by sharing the success of CSU business students. With 2,500 undergraduates and 1,000 graduate students in Fort Collins, Walker said that 92 percent of CSU business school graduates receive immediate job offers with salaries averaging $48,619. Goldman Sachs is the school’s largest recruiter. Walker also shared that the online MBA program offered by CSU has been rated No. 15 in the world by the Financial Times. CSU’s Everitt Real Estate Center houses the fastest growing program in the college of business. Real estate graduates from CSU have a 100 percent internship rate and a 100 percent job-offer rate.
Katie Kruger, CEO of Denver Metro Commercial Association of Realtors, served as moderator for the program. She said that Colorado is experiencing net in-migration of 30,000 people annually and half are millennials. To accommodate growth, 14,000 multi-family units will come onto the Denver market this year.
David Lee, executive managing director of- Newmark Knight Frank-United Properties, compared and contrasted A and AA-class office space in southeast suburban Denver. Class AA space is found in taller buildings that tend to have separate parking structures, and more amenities, but A-class space is very suitable for some companies and offers value pricing. He said the biggest problem employers have is attracting workers. As a result, companies are going as far north as Greeley and south to Colorado Springs to fulfill their labor needs. Lee talked about an 8-acre property that he sold for $4.83/square foot in 2006 and again for 10 times that amount in 2016. He does not anticipate a market slowdown anytime soon and sees even class B buildings getting redeveloped to meet market needs.
Lee said that access to light rail is critical for many developments and employers are willing to pay a premium for any location near light rail. Lee closed by telling the audience that 70,000 new jobs will be available, if employees and housing for them can be found.
Keith Simon, executive vice president of Coventry Development Corp.-Ridge Gate Project, spoke next. He was very enthusiastic about the history of collaboration between his company and the City of Lone Tree, who shared a vision for high-quality higher density mixed-use development. Together, they worked to get Sky Ridge Medical Center as the area’s first large employer in 2002 and others soon followed Simon says, “If you can create strength in a real estate development at either end, the middle will fill in.” Today there are 2,300 residential units with 6,000 people in 15 different neighborhoods on a planned street grid in Lone Tree that pours out onto Lincoln Avenue and I-25. They have created 7,500 jobs and 500,000 square feet of retail space. Most importantly, 500 acres of development are within walking distance of one of the city’s light rail stops.
Tristin Gleason, senior VP of Project One, works with developers and said the biggest issue is escalating constructions costs. She expects an 8 percent increase in 2018.
Matt Joblon, CEO and principal of BMC Investments, talked about Cherry Creek, where rents have gone from 25 percent of tenants’ earnings to 45-50 percent in just eight years. He described the area as home to 7,500 office workers whose average salary is $171,000. Joblon said that land is going for $600/square foot. He said the key to success for retail is to make it more experiential to compete with Amazon. Retailers have to offer service and create personal relationships with customers. Joblon believes that health and wellness is the next big industry.
The panelists said they expect Colorado to continue to experience business growth, but they all agreed that the role of transportation is key. All the participants concurred that employees driving their personal cars to work is neither a sensible nor a sustainable model. Simon said it is important for companies to work with local government to make different transportation options available, as his company did in Lone Tree. Joblon said that when you plan a community, you must have lots of different transportation options. He closed with, “Change is coming in how people get around.”
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