Future looks alive in all areas of Springs’ real estate

Wow! There’s a lot going on out there – some of the latest real estate-related announcements originating from downtown all the way to Peterson Air Force Base. Hold on to your hats, folks, it’s going to be an interesting five years ahead…
Lux says Southside Johnny’s opening at 528 S. Tejon
The Colorado Springs Business Journal recently caught up with David Lux, president of Concept Restaurants, Inc., just long enough to get the lowdown on a new downtown eatery set to debut in May. Southside Johnny’s will offer a tavern menu and ambience and will be located in the old Sound Shop location on South Tejon. “Parking should be no problem,” says Lux. “We’ve got three parking lots within one-half block of the restaurant. We expect to see growth in that part of downtown, with Confluence Park and the possible move of Sky Sox Stadium to the area.”
Lux and two other partners – John Nolan and Luke Travens – will operate the new bar/restaurant. Nolan is currently managing The Ritz, and Travens is a partner with Lux in MacKenzies’s and The Ritz. JOLUDA, Inc. (an acronym for John, Luke and David) holds a 15-year lease on the property. Landlord, Rich Guy, the owner and president of Computer Resources (located just to the north of the new restaurant) worked directly with the partnership on the lease. “It will be a casual place,” says Lux, who has successfully developed three other downtown bar/restaurant combinations, and seems to have a sixth sense about what will attract the central business district clientele.
Military on the move?
Rumors are circulating about the eventual build-up and expansion of local military bases (namely Peterson and U.S. Space Command’s Schriever Air Force Bases) in the Pikes Peak region. From the hotels who host high-level Washington, D.C. dignitaries and defense contractors, to the commercial realtors who say that Dick Cheney and his aides have been in town on several occasions for high-level meetings, word on the street is that Colorado Springs is attracting a lot of attention. Strategic Homeland Defense planning has been in the works for some time, but it sounds like we are well-positioned to grow with military-related projects.
Conover building fills up
Gary Conover says his building at the corner of Weber and Colorado Ave. is nearing full occupancy. Though the market has slowed, all of the space in the 56,000 square foot Class A office building, except for the north one-half of the first floor, are leased. Conover believes the building’s location in the Central Business District, and its plentiful parking have helped draw tenants, while other buildings sit vacant. Originally designed by RTA architects Chuck Benson and Pat Zukowski, Conover says he continues to get inquiries from prospective tenants, and expects to fill his vacancies later this summer.
And from the London Group…
Now that they’ve moved to their Courtside Plaza location, Mike Heritage says The London Group has doubled its office space and invested in some impressive tenant improvements. According to Heritage, last year’s economic slowdown and stock market debacle has generated a renewed interest in investor groups returning to commercial real estate. “Two or three years ago,” says Heritage, “with double-digit returns on stocks, it was hard to attract real estate investment at 10-15 percent. Then we saw double-digit negatives on the Dow, and now are finding a lot more interest from parties with $50,000 to $100,000 to put into buildings and undeveloped land.
The London Group’s new headquarters at 402 S. Cascade is also just a block south of one of the projected gateway entrances to Confluence Park. “We’re very optimistic about our investment in Courtside Plaza,” Heritage said. “We’ve been visiting with neighboring businesses, and most are planning to stay, based on the development proposed by Jeff Smith and Nor’Wood Development. Most of the people we talk to think the biggest activity is still five years away, though.”
Known for its commercial land deals as well as commercial leasing, the London Group’s Heritage, Kevin Butcher, Sam Cameron and the rest of the team are optimistic about what’s happening in eastern and southeastern Colorado Springs. “We own a building at Marksheffel and Drennan, which is currently home to both defense contractor and military tenant, MEDIVAC,” said Heritage. MEDIVAC has already expanded, and I think we’ll see further expansion by both groups in the months to come – although it may take a while.” Heritage believes that the London Real Estate Group is well-positioned with its existing land holdings and listings to grow with the military community. P.S.—if the INTEL is going to happen, we’ll know by this summer, he added.
Home values up 14 percent in past two years
According to Wells Fargo Home Equity’s spokesman, Chris Hammond, in spite of last year’s weak economy, home values have appreciated 14 percent in two years time. Hammond also notes that homeowners today have amassed about five trillion dollars in lendable equity in the U.S. On top of that, only 25 percent of us have a line of credit or home equity loan. Though this information is offered by Wells Fargo to encourage more folks to obtain home equity loans, the bottom line is that for many of us, home ownership may out-perform IRAs and 401Ks as retirement savings programs. With refinancing rates in the low six percent range, the whole concept is pretty attractive – even before the interest tax deduction possibilities.
According to Freddie Mac’s March 1 report: “In the final quarter of 2001, 47 percent of loans that were re-financed resulted in new mortgages at least five percent higher in amount than the original mortgages. We expect the refinance volume to decline over the course of 2002, because most families will take advantage of today’s low rates rather than risk facing higher interest rates later in the year.” In addition, the government program experts predict that in contrast to the 35 percent growth in home values generated over the last five years, 2002 should see growth in home values of three percent.
Transaction report
From Grubb & Ellis Quantum Commercial Group this weeks come two reports. First, Hermann Spielkamp, CCIM, represented the buyer on the purchase of the 16,640 square foot Camio Building at 1322 North Academy Boulevard. The new owners, Four Peaks, LLC, are investors. The former owner, Tall Pines, LLC., was represented by David Ankeney of Metro Brokers.
Cameron Mogadam represented the tenant, Express Cash., LLC, owners of Payday Loans in the lease of 1,500 square feet in the new Safeway Market Center at 2912 North Powers Boulevard. Sullivan Hayes Brokerage out of Denver represented the owner, Marketplace East Associates Limited Partnership.
Congratulations to MAME award finalists
It’s always interesting to find out which builders and developers are finalists in the annual MAME Awards competition, sponsored by the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs. Among the familiar entrants like Classic Communities, Nichols & Comito, Saddletree and Keller Homes are a few new names – companies like Gregoire Homes in the high-end “Best Home” category and Lowell Development in the Advertising, Community Planning and Development and Best New Home (attached) categories. The MAME Award dinner is set for April 13 at The Broadmoor when “the best of the best” are recognized. For more information or reservations contact Janet Rummel at 719/592-1800.