Expanding retailers focusing in on Colorado

Filed under: Daily News,Real Estate | Tags:,
Centers like the Promenade Shops at Briargate cater to an upscale, suburban demographic.

Centers like the Promenade Shops at Briargate cater to an upscale, suburban demographic.

This week, the International Council of Shopping Centers sponsored its annual Denver Retail Runway at the downtown J.W. Marriott hotel.

The event is considered “unique,” said ICSC spokesman Jesse Tron. “We do other kinds of ‘alliance’ programs and NexGen programs in other parts of the country, but this is a specific opportunity for brokers, developers and landlords to meet face to face with prospects.”

Retailers confirmed prior to Thanksgiving included Famous Footwear, Hollywood Theaters, 7-Eleven, Which Wich and Monkey Business.

Grubb & Ellis Quantum Commercial Group retail broker Jim Chacon said the concept is valuable, despite the focus on the Denver metro area.

“Even if they’re not looking at more stores in our area, at least you’d have a chance to meet in person and find out what might be planned for the future, what their timelines are,” he said. “In this market, you do everything you can.”

On retail moves

While the retail sector has been hard hit by a cutback in consumer spending, Chacon said that successful store owners should carefully evaluate before leaving a proven market for supposed greener pastures, that offer discounted rents and promise of higher customer traffic.

“One of my clients ran a successful west side women’s clothing store,” he said. “She talked to another shop owner who had moved to the Promenade Shops at Briargate earlier this year and was pleased by increased traffic. My client decided to leave Old Colorado City for the modern suburban lifestyle center. I hope she’s successful, but that’s such a different market. What made her store special, what worked for her in one location, might not in another.”

Retailers facing sagging sales in Class B or C centers are often convinced that stretching to lease at a slightly higher lease rate in an “A” center will be the answer to their prayers, he said.

But there’s more to relocation than just the cost of a move and a little promotion. “Long term, you have to also look at the health of your landlord,” Chacon said. “In this environment, a lot of shopping center owners are trying to refinance, and if they can’t get financing, they may end up bank-owned. When that happens, the tenants may be dealing with a very different set of circumstances.”

Chacon said he’s checked with several owners to determine whether they are interested in listing their properties.

“Most of our landlords are still in a good position,” he said. “They’re continuing with business for now. I think that’s a good sign.”

Impact of home tax credit

National Association of Home Builders’ analysts have estimated that passage of the extended and expanded home buyer tax credit will create 211,000 jobs and generate 180,000 additional home sales during the coming year. The legislation also is expected to generate $9.6 billion in wage income and $6.9 billion in federal, state and local taxes.

Through the end of October, the NAHB estimated that the tax credit was responsible for 200,000 additional home sales, and an increase of 187,000 jobs.

Now that the tax incentive has been extended through 2010, and all qualified buyers of a principal residence are eligible, it could generate another 383,000 home sales and up to 347,000 new jobs, according to home building industry analysts.

Some Colorado Springs brokers have already benefited.

“I’ve sold eight houses in the past 12 months — and expect to do even better next year,” said Re/Max Properties broker Jeremy Isaac, adding that three of those qualified for some part of the tax credit. “It’s been great for both buyers and sellers, especially with the good deals out there.”

Likewise for Jackie McGee of ERA Shields, who used to focus on selling homes on the west side.

“This year I’ve done most of my business near or east of Powers Boulevard,” she said. “I’ve had a very good year, due in part to the first-time buyers’ tax credit. It should be even better next year as we begin a recovery and more people will be able to participate.”

Becky Hurley covers real estate for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.