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ARCHIVED  November 1, 1996

Blackfox broker stretches into Denver for huge deal

FORT COLLINS – An opportunity that seldom would cross the desk of most Northern Colorado brokers left one local broker handling both ends of a deal to sell one of downtown Denver’s notable high-rises.Stephen C. Greenlee, a broker with Blackfox Commercial Real Estate Group, recently closed on a multimillion deal for the 425,000-square-foot, 28-story First Interstate South tower at 17th and California streets in Denver.
The property had been owned by Equitable Life Assurance Co. of Chicago and was bought by the Hearn Co., another Chicago group.
Greenlee, who grew up in Boulder, had worked for Equitable in Denver and later was promoted to the Chicago office. He later was recruited by Blackfox and returned to Colorado.
“I’m kind of unusual, because most of my contacts and experience is in larger urban areas,” Greenlee said. “My sources of business right now tend to be in those areas, but I’m hoping some of those capital sources might want to come to Fort Collins.”
Greenlee said there are several companies, including ones he became familiar with in Chicago, that are attracted to investing in smaller markets. Without having a contact in those markets, however, it’s less likely they would come in on their own to purchase investments.
“It’s a small, elite group of pension funds and institutions,´ said Russ McCahan, an owner of Blackfox Real Estate Group. “It’s a close-knit fraternity.”
“I’d like to bring new investors to the market,” Greenlee said.
He noted that Blackfox has a unique mix with his own institutional and capital experience combined with fellow broker Tom Peterson’s city-planning background and McCahan’s long-time presence in the Northern Colorado market.Loveland real estate market shiftsLOVELAND – Changes are afoot in the retail and office sectors of Loveland, where lease rates are rising.
“There isn’t any (retail) spec space being built,´ said Larry Melton, broker with Realtec Commercial Real Estate Services Inc. “If you want to be in a prime retail area, you have to pay a prime price.”
Retail lease rates have jumped from a range of $6.50 to $10.50 triple net to a new high of $8 to $11 triple net.
Triple net is when the lessee is responsible for utility bills and taxes.
“The market is stronger than it’s been, and we’ve got more demand for prime retail,” Melton said.
Popular spots are near the U.S. Highway 287 and 29th Street corridor, on west U.S. Highway 34 between Taft and Wilson avenues, and east U.S. 34 between U.S. 287 and Boise Avenue.
The downtown Loveland retail area still commands $4 to $7 modified gross, where utilities and taxes are split by the landlord and tenant.
The need for retail space is high, but Melton speculated that rates will stay up for a while until someone makes the leap to build a new retail center.
“It takes rents at an above-market level to make spec space a reality,” Melton said.
“The demand is strong, but not strong enough to see spec retail space yet,” he said. “If you look at it, it costs so much money to buy land, build a building and finance it.”
Still, one source said prospects for a new retail center in southwest Loveland are growing. There are rumblings that the 11-acre northwest corner of Taft Avenue and First Street could host a retail center anchored by King Soopers, with a Conoco gas station on the corner.
“Anyone who doesn’t build in southwest Loveland is a bumbling idiot,” the source said.
As for office space, rates inched up recently to $9 to $15 modified gross.
“People are building office space,” Melton said, “but it’s owner-user for at least half of it, then leasing the rest of space.”
New office space can fetch premium rates. One project in north Loveland has a base of $11.50 a foot with about $3 in nets, bringing the cost to almost $15 a foot.
Another new building outside the city limits is receiving about $10.75 modified gross. Still, space around town is filling up.
Melton said rents in the city began increasing in 1992 and 1993. By 1994 and 1995, occupancy was strong, and it now hovers around 5 percent or lower in both retail and office space.West Greeley hotbed of activityGREELEY – Construction on a 6,000-square-foot retail building at the West Point Commerce Center near 10th Street and 54th Avenue should begin next month.
The complex will house the high-end salon James International and other unannounced businesses.
Union Colony Bank is nearing completion of a new facility at the same corner. Across the street, Roche Constructors Inc. also plans a retail site.
However, Roche first is beginning work on an Aims Community College building, and recently completed a new facility for State Farm Insurance Cos. on its land near the intersection. Art gallery, smoke shop opensFORT COLLINS – A very different kind of gallery debuted late last month in downtown Fort Collins.
Gaffer’s Glass opened as a space where local artists can showcase glass-blown work, paintings, pottery, paper weights, wood-turned objects and other pieces of art. The twist is that the gallery also has a smoke shop and in six months or so will have a walk-in humidor and cigar smoking lounge.
The shop is at 420 S. Howes, #107 in a turn of the century carriage house.
“I’ll also have literature on glass blowing,´ said Mica Renquist, owner of Gaffer’s. “Glass has been getting pretty big lately, especially with the younger college crowd.”
He was assisted in finding the space for Gaffer’s by Steve Kawulok of The Group Inc.Leases:Poudre Health Services District leased 7,800 square feet at 2925 S. College Ave. in Fort Collins for a wellness center. Steve Kawulok and Chuck Bowling of The Group Inc. handled the deal.
BT Office Products Inc., an office-supply and furniture company, has leased 947 square feet at 2850 McClelland Drive, Suite 3800, in the McClelland Office Park. BT, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, is recognized as one of the largest office-product companies in the United States. The local sales office will be managed by Paul Van Valkenburg. Rhys Christensen of Realtec Commercial Real Estate Services Inc. and Mark Schuster of Grubb & Ellis Co. handled the deal.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture renewed a lease in the McClelland Office Park, taking suites 3100, 3400 and 3500. The agency occupies 4,153 square feet there. Rhys Christensen of Realtec handled the renewal.
Aspen Leaf Kitchens leased 1,250 square feet at 151 College Ave. Dan Eckles and Tricia Diehl of Realtec handled the deal.
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FORT COLLINS – An opportunity that seldom would cross the desk of most Northern Colorado brokers left one local broker handling both ends of a deal to sell one of downtown Denver’s notable high-rises.Stephen C. Greenlee, a broker with Blackfox Commercial Real Estate Group, recently closed on a multimillion deal for the 425,000-square-foot, 28-story First Interstate South tower at 17th and California streets in Denver.
The property had been owned by Equitable Life Assurance Co. of Chicago and was bought by the Hearn Co., another Chicago group.
Greenlee, who grew up in Boulder, had worked for Equitable in Denver and…

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