Real Estate: Condo projects capture market for office users

Much-in-demand office/warehouse condominiums are going up in Fort Collins and Loveland.

The latest Fort Collins project, Levon’s Office/Warehouse Condominiums, is at 315 W. Hickory off of north College Avenue.

The first phase, which should have units ready for occupancy May 1, is a 14,700-square-foot building offering individual units beginning at 2,100 square feet. Charles Meserlian of Fort Collins is the project developer, and FHP Inc. of Greeley is the general contractor. Levon’s will have 14 condo units available when both phases are complete.

“It’s right next to the bike path, and there’s city open space to the south,” he said.

Linda Jackson at Wheeler Commercial of Fort Collins is marketing the condos.

“The owner will hold two units for lease,” she said

The leased units will run $5.95 per square foot, plus utilities. Those available for purchase will sell for $55 a square foot. As in a residential condo project, an owners’ association will pay to maintain grounds and common areas.

“We saw that startup construction costs are cheaper with a warehouse project, plus it’s more economical to own than rent in warehouse industrial space now,” Jackson said.

Jackson said interest in the project has been strong. Firms such as a small wood manufacturer have looked at the condos. Additionally, some office users also are inquiring, an indicator that much higher office lease rates elsewhere in the city could drive those tenants into such warehouse condo developments.

The Loveland condo project currently under way is Wilson Business Center, at Wilson Avenue and Eighth Street. It will ultimately have 20 condo units.

They will be for smaller users, beginning at 1,200 square feet. The first phase is a single 12,000-square-foot building containing 10 units. Five units are initially being constructed.

Howard Carter, broker associate at Moore Commercial Real Estate Services Co. of Loveland, said selling price is $60 per square foot, or $72,000 for a 1,200-square-foot unit. Up to 400 square feet of finished office space is included.

“We are hoping for our first closing at the end of April,” he said.

Ron Carfield of Commercial Building Systems in Loveland owns the ground for the project and is the general contractor.

“It’s ideal for sculptors, contracting, distribution or manufacturing,” Carter said.

The Money Store Investment Corp. is offering 10 percent-down financing through the U.S. Small Business Administration for both Levon’s Office/Warehouse Condominiums and the Wilson Business Center.

Vacancies fuel Monfort deal

GREELEY — The flight of businesses to new office space in west Greeley last year left an excessive amount of vacant office space downtown.

Now, though, square footage is beginning to be absorbed as several thousand square feet recently have been sold or leased.

Some of that activity is due to Monfort of Colorado Inc., owned by ConAgra Inc. of Omaha, Neb., leasing additional space in the Bank One building at 822 Seventh St.

ConAgra Refrigerated Foods, one of the major groups within ConAgra, moved its international division, hide division and some corporate functions to the downtown location.

“We had run out of space,´ said Karl Wagner, facilities manager at Monfort’s corporate headquarters north of Greeley.

The international division and corporate functions had been operating out of the corporate headquarters.

The hide division is new to Colorado. It was run out of White Plains, N.Y., until relocating last month to the new Greeley location. Approximately 10 employees transferred from New York, and almost 20 more were hired locally. In total, about 100 employees moved into the recently-leased space.

Monfort now occupies 22,000 square feet on the second and third floors of the Bank One building. The company previously had about 18,000 square feet there.

It appears that real estate activity will continue to pick up downtown.

“We have an office building for sale in the area,´ said Michael Ehler of The Group Inc. of Greeley, “and there’s been more activity on it in the past one month than in the previous three.”

One factor making downtown more attractive to businesses, Ehler noted, is a 30 percent to 40 percent price differential in lease rates between downtown and west Greeley.

Another welcome change is that restaurants in the downtown area, notably the relative-newcomers and downtown-anchors Fleetside Pub & Brewing and Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant, have seen an increase in business. Lunch crowds have been improving since new tenants began leasing the vacant downtown buildings, thus increasing the number of employees out at the noon hour.

“It is good,´ said Lyle Butler of the Greeley/Weld Chamber of Commerce, “but there’s still some vacancies in the area.”

Orchards center under contract

LOVELAND — In what must be one of the shorter days-on-the-market for a large commercial development, the Orchards Shopping Center here went under contract after being listed for about two months.

At the northeast corner of U.S. Highway 287 and 29th Street, the Orchards totals more than 200,000 square feet of office and retail space. However, some of the buildings are separately owned. The property under contract amounts to 171,000 square feet of the total. Asking price was $7.2 million.

Current owner Balcorp Cos., a unit of American Express, had been intentionally vacating space in the center with plans to attract large tenants. Ensuing vacancies at the shopping center have heavily skewed the overall retail vacancy rates in Loveland.

Janet Goodrich of Insignia Retail Group, the center’s Greenville, South Carolina, property management firm, said pad sites along U.S. 287 once occupied by the Red Dragon restaurant and CJ’s Flowers were left empty. Additionally, a 40,000-square-foot building on the east end of the center is three-fourths empty for an eventual single-user.

It’s unclear what plans the potential new owner may have for the center.

Retail, office going up in Loveland

LOVELAND — Showtime U.S.A. Video will anchor a 16,550-square-foot retail project at 610 E. 29th St. here, east of a U.S. Post Office.

In addition to the 9,000-square-foot Showtime building, the 1.8-acre development will include a unnamed national restaurant with a drive-through and a travel agency.

“That leaves me one space of 2,709 square feet,´ said Bob McConnell of McConnell Hale & Co., developer of the project.

Architecture One of Loveland designed the center.

Lease rates begin at $10.25 per square foot, and first occupancies are expected in May.

Across the street at the northeast corner of Lincoln Avenue and Ginnala Drive, the Egan Office Park is taking shape. The Loveland Dialysis Center’s 5,700-square-foot building is complete. The new 12,000-square-foot facility for Orthopaedic Center of the Rockies and Healthsouth Corp. is under construction. Clark Construction Co. is the general contractor and Architecture One designed the building.

Egan Office Park ultimately will accommodate almost 57,000 square feet of office space in approximately one dozen buildings. Construction costs begin around $115 per square foot, and U.S. Small Business Administration financing is available through The Money Store Investment Corp.

Also being developed by McConnell Hale & Co., Egan Office Park is aimed at medical, dental and other office professionals.

Office development under way

LOVELAND — A new Class A office building should be complete this fall just north of the highly successful Becker Office Building near U.S. Highway 287 and 39th Street here.

The single-story, 8,000-square-foot project is directly north of the Becker building. Completed last year, the Becker facility is occupied by On Call Employment Services and Re/Max First Associates.

Now called the Corporate Signature Office Building, the new structure ultimately will be named after its largest tenant. Like its neighbor, premium rents will be commanded. Base rental rates start at $14.50 per square foot. McConnell Hale & Co. is developing the project, and Architecture One provided the design.

Sales and leases

Trios, an Aveda day spa, will occupy 1,800 square feet in Building E of Poudre Valley Plaza at the southeast corner of Horsetooth Road and Shields Street. The office and retail project is marketed by Wheeler Realty of Fort Collins. Building E will be constructed this fall.

The building at 913 11th Ave. in Greeley was sold recently to H.Q. Properties LLC for $179,000. Jess Quinby of Weld Intervention Group is spearheading renovation of the 3,000-square-foot property. as a group home for adolescents. The 3,000-square-foot property is being renovated. Michael Ehler and Jack Mackey of The Group Inc. of Greeley handled the deal.

Another building in the 2600 block of Eighth Avenue also was sold recently as a center for juveniles. Jim Klein purchased the building for $175,000. Michael Ehler and Jack Mackey of The Group Inc. of Greeley put the deal together.

Nine acres at the southeast corner of Interstate 25 and Prospect Road were sold last month to Jeff and Debra Hill of California for $350,000, or more than $38,000 an acre. The seller was Dwight Ghent of Fort Collins. The Hills are partners in the Yamaha Performance Center at 1617 E. Mulberry St. They plan to eventually develop the I-25 property. Jim Mokler of Realtec Commercial Real Estate Services Inc. handled the deal.

Easy Seasons/Grass Works leased 1,250 square feet at 216 Racquette Drive, No. 8 in Fort Collins. Jim Mokler of Realtec negotiated the lease.

Gerald Brown of American Republic Insurance Co. leased the final 1,146 square feet of the Foundation Engineering building, 5110 Granite St. in Loveland. McConnell Hale & Co. handled the deal.