University Village to break ground in December

Filed under: real estate column |

The big-box stores at University Village will be accompanied by inline shops. RTA Architects created the center’s contemporary look.

First phase construction on six multi-tenant buildings planned for a 650,000-square-foot University Village retail center on North Nevada Ave. is scheduled to kick-off Dec.12, according to Kevin Kratt of Kratt Commercial Real Estate.
“In addition to Costco which opens in August 2009, we also still expect Lowe’s and Kohl’s to be ready to go by October,” he said, adding that new retail tenants will likely include names like Panera Bread Co., which plans to open the company’s fifth local store.
RTA Architects designed the “hip,” modern look and feel of the new center with its plazas and outside meeting areas, as well as contemporary lighting towers and landscaping, to attract shoppers.
The V-3 Co. is handling all preliminary site work and installation of underground utilities on the 80-acre site. Peak Professional Contractors will serve as the general contractor.
Martin Wood, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs chief operating officer, said campus officials remain “very excited” about the shopping center.
“Today, if students want to go to a restaurant or do some shopping they have to leave campus, either by car or alternate transportation,” he said. “The shopping center will provide students with a much quicker, easier access this type of service. As an added benefit some of the employers in the center will also provide jobs — a significant opportunity for our student body.”

Deals roll in

While commercial deals might be trickling rather than pouring in during fourth quarter, a number of new leases and sales have been reported during the last 30 days. Here’s a look at a few highlights.
Center City Plaza has added two tenants. The first is personal bankruptcy attorney Geoffrey Atzbach, who leased 979 square feet from the landlord, Center City Plaza LLC. Ted Link of the Cascade Commercial Group represented both parties.
Link also negotiated a 4,840-square-foot lease with the General Services Administration on behalf of a Department of Defense auditing agency which will be located on the building’s second floor.
Buzz Frum, a financial planner, has leased 3,414 square feet at Kissing Camels Office Park III, 2955 Professional Place.
Brian Norton of Cascade Commercial Group represented the landlord, Sullivan Communities, and the tenant.
Dinnari Enterprises LLP has leased 3,608 square feet in the Matrix Building, 2435 Research Parkway. Dinnari owner, Suz Loewecke, will open a high-end spa.
The landlord, Great River Equities LLP, was represented by Susan Beitle and Mark Dyer of Grubb & Ellis Quantum Commercial Group. Link represented Dinnari.
Link also represented Dr. Ripley Hollister on the lease of 5,000 square feet at 4190 East Woodmen Road. Brian Wagner of Sierra Commercial Real Estate represented the landlord.

‘Always opportunity’

You read it here: commercial real estate opportunities are alive and well in the Pikes Peak region — at least according to one broker.
“We’re not letting a flat market stop us, especially in the leasing market,” Link said. “The real challenge for investors is do they have money and do they have a good lender?”
Link, who has specialized in office or medical building sales and leasing, enjoyed his best year during 2007. He said he expects to meet the same benchmark for 2008 — but with more small deals and harder work.
“There are opportunities in a down market that you won’t see again,” he said. “As a broker, you have to use a different type of thinking. Transactions take longer, but they will get done.”
The most vulnerable group during the current economy might be over-leveraged building owners with shell space who have to weigh the strength of would-be tenants.
“Will it be worth thousands of dollars invested in (and borrowed for) office improvements if the tenant can’t pay the rent for 18 to 24 months?” Link asked. “That’s what a lot of owners have to ask themselves.”
Because of the lending market, there will be more retrofitting of existing space — good news for remodelers and contractors.
“But there will always be property that sells and buyers for those properties,” he said. “And brokers who adapt to this new reality will do fine.”

G&E reports retail decline

Seasonally adjusted retail sales fell 2.8 percent during October compared with September, the latest sign that the economy has shifted into reverse, according to economic analysts at Grubb & Ellis.
The latest decline was the steepest monthly drop in 22 years, led lower by a 12.7 percent decline in gasoline sales and a 5.5 percent decline in motor vehicle and parts sales. Falling gasoline prices, good news for consumers, did little to support core retail sales excluding vehicles and gasoline, which fell 0.5 percent.
Only Wal-Mart and a few other discounters saw sales growth, a sign of extreme consumer duress. The commercial real estate company said more store closures early in 2009 will increase pressure on shopping center occupancy and rental rates.

‘Buy-downs’ coming back?

The National Association of Home Builders’ Web site this week acknowledged that the organization hopes the new Congress will combine aggressive mortgage interest rate “buy-downs” along with federal income tax credits to spur housing sales and new construction.
The NAHB pointed to similar “buy-downs” implemented during the 1970s, lowering rates to consumers through a program known as the “Tandem Plan.” Through the program, Ginnie Mae purchased discount-rate loans made by private mortgage lenders to homebuyers.
Quoted in the Washington Post, David Ledford, senior vice president for housing policy at NAHB, said a mass-market buy-down plan would be expensive, but it would be a cost-effective way to energize the housing sector and stimulate the broader economy.
Becky Hurley covers real estate for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.