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ARCHIVED  November 5, 1999

Koste gives balance to growth debate

BOULDER – If this story about Byron Koste says anything, he would like it to say that he is all about balance.

Balance is important to Byron Koste.

“When you lose balance,” he said, “that’s a precious thing to lose.” He and his supporters say Koste walks fine line between the development side of the community and the slow-growth faction.

Koste came from a 20-year stint with Westinghouse Communities Inc. before he started the job of director of the University of Colorado Real Estate Center in September 1996. The center is new ” an initiative of the College of Business to aid it in building an enduring relationship with the real estate industry.

Early in his career, Koste was a real estate developer.

In November 1992, he was named president of Westinghouse Communities, where he was responsible for the company’s Florida West Coast operations, including the development of Pelican Bay in Naples, Fla., which earned awards for planning on the local, regional and national levels. Pelican Bay earned a national Responsible Growth Award and the Urban Land Institute tapped it as the 1995 Community of the Year noting its resourceful uses of land and design and sensitivity to the community and the environment. Koste also presented an internationally published treatise on responsible growth management to the World Organization on Land Policy in London.

Koste says simply that working with nature is much better than fighting it.

“I learned early that you need to think in a community context,” he said.

CU Vice President David Growth says that such a philosophy translates well in Koste’s new position.

Says Growth: “I know that he’s had a longtime interest in education and a very effective career as a real estate executive and developer, so he has a sense of how to bring the real world into the university and into the classroom. And that’s a gift.”

Rod Slifer, chairman of the CU Real Estate Council, the board of governors for the Real Estate Center, agrees that Koste’s “tremendous” background in real estate brings to the academic side a very practical element. He believes that Koste has done a great job of blending the real estate community in Colorado with the program. Koste has had great success recruiting students for the MBA program and raising money in the private sector, he said. (The center is paid for half by the private sector and half by the university.)

“He’s just been a very capable person in running that whole complicated program,” Slifer said.

In the selection process, the council had 100 candidates, boiled down from a national search that netted more than 300 applicants. “When we got to Byron, he was just in our opinion head and shoulders above the others,” Slifer said. “We hired him and feel very fortunate.”

At CU, Koste co-teaches one class and is a guest lecturer in two others. In the community, Koste is active. He served on the Crossroads Community Consortium Management Committee. He is partnering with the city of Boulder on series of workshops on mixed-use zoning. And he is quoted as an expert source in dozens of newspaper stories generated from all areas of the country.

“It’s a refreshing change,” Koste says of his relationship with the press since jumping from a private company to a public institution.

Boulder Planning Director Peter Pollock said that Koste is a source of information about development issues and a link to extensive resources in the real estate community both in Colorado and nationally.

“He’s a bridge between the development community and the planning department on issues such as mixed-use development,” Pollock said. “He’s been an invaluable addition to this community, and I’m really pleased that he’s able to help us out.”

Now Koste is expanding his responsibility to the entire state. He is behind an effort to organize what he hopes will be a permanent “think tank.” The entity would be a repository to benefit planners and local officials statewide and would study ways to manage Colorado’s growth, concern for which, Koste says, varies notably from region to region.

Some areas are starved for growth; others, choked by it. That’s why solutions such as statewide legislation are “very difficult” concepts to embrace, he said.

“Let’s not try to come up with a simple solution, because it can’t work,” he said. “Let’s think this through and help cities, help counties.”

In early October, Koste and other educators, a “big list” of government types including Gov. Bill Owens, a slew of private-sector representatives, and parties such as the Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG) heard a presentation by Republican Sen. Bryan Sullivant, who represents part of Boulder County and is chairman of an interim legislative committee on growth and development.

The meeting itself was held to make sure “folks are generally on the same page” with regard to the think tank, Koste said. It will be followed by an organizational meeting in early November. The group, which is expected to include the state’s three largest public universities, is being called the Growth Management Alliance.

Koste said municipalities statewide must look to grow in “healthy” ways in order to maintain the state’s delicate balancing act. They must, for example, balance jobs and housing. “It’s not rocket science,” he said.

Koste also said that the issue of sharing sales-tax revenue among cities should be revisited.

“I don’t think there’s anything radical about that,” he said.

John Shaw, vice president of real estate development for Opus Northwest LLC, said that Koste’s balanced perspective and intelligence is a boon to the local community as well as the state.

“I sincerely believe that it’s critical that the real estate school keep a very balanced perspective,” Shaw said, “and Byron is very committed to doing that. We need to be able to have the school be a forum for all schools of thought on growth. ä Byron has always been very strong in his advocacy to keep a balanced perspective on growth. He brings just a marvelous combination of intelligence and energy to the whole program.”

BOULDER – If this story about Byron Koste says anything, he would like it to say that he is all about balance.

Balance is important to Byron Koste.

“When you lose balance,” he said, “that’s a precious thing to lose.” He and his supporters say Koste walks fine line between the development side of the community and the slow-growth faction.

Koste came from a 20-year stint with Westinghouse Communities Inc. before he started the job of director of the University of Colorado Real Estate Center in September 1996. The center is new ” an initiative of the College of Business to aid it…

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