2012 ends with property-buying boom

BOULDER — The year 2012 ended with a December to remember for investors in commercial and multifamily real estate in Boulder and Broomfield counties.

According to Boulder County property records and data supplied by SKLD Title Services Inc., 23 commercial or multifamily housing properties were sold in Boulder County in December for more than $1 million each. Together, the deals were worth more than $163 million.

Broomfield County also posted several multimillion dollar deals, the largest being University of Colorado Health’s $23.9 million purchase of land for a new facility.

Unsurprisingly, the list of the biggest deals was dominated by sales of apartment properties.

The biggest deal, the sale of the Prana Apartments in Lafayette for $36.1 million, closed in early December. Milestone Development Group, a Denver-based firm, built the 264-unit complex, which opened in 2010. The complex is in the “SoLa,” or south Lafayette, area, off U.S. Highway 287 north of Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center.

The buyer, LLJ Stratford Prana, is a San Diego-based company that invests in multifamily developments and has been looking to enter Colorado, according to Ken Kiken, principal of Milestone.

The 216-unit Willow Run Village complex near the intersection of East Midway Boulevard and North Zuni Street in Broomfield sold for $28.2 million to a limited liability company created by Griffis/Blessing Inc., a Colorado Springs-based real estate investment and managing company.

Griffis/Blessing acquired the property from a partnership led by Greenwood Village-based Baron Properties after searching the state for good apartment deals.

“We looked up and down the Front Range, and we really liked that market,” said Gary Winegar, chief investment officer of Griffis/Blessing.

The sale of the Canyon Creek Apartments in Boulder, a nine-building complex at 730 29th St., was the third-largest apartment sale, with a price tag of $15 million, according to Boulder County property records. The total price when an additional transaction related to the sale is included is about $20 million, said Thom Widawski of Verus Commercial Inc., who represented the buyer and seller.

The buyer was Canyon Creek Apartments II LLC, which purchased the 176-unit complex from Canyon Creek Apartments LLC. Both groups are local investors, and the buyers have other student-housing properties, Widawski said.

Denver-based investors also purchased two multifamily properties on Mohawk Drive in Boulder. Boulder Properties Investor LLC paid $10.5 million for the Villa del Prado apartments, a 50-unit complex at 635 Mohawk Drive, and $6.25 million for the Chateaux Apartments, a 32-unit complex at 565 Mohawk Drive. Triangle Partnership LLP and AHL Properties LLC, respectively, sold the properties.

Brokers in the Denver office of Apartment Realty Advisors had a hand in the Prana, Villa del Prado and Chateaux sales. Multifamily properties are the most sought-after investment opportunities for commercial investors at the moment, much to ARA’s benefit, according to principal Terrance Hunt. His company has set a record this year in brokering $1.2 billion in transactions. Statewide, multifamily sales reached $2.4 billion.

The activity has been spread around the state, but the Boulder area is very much on investors’ radar.

“Overall, we’ve had the highest volume of transactions the state has ever seen, and obviously Boulder is up there as well,” Hunt said.

“We’ve seen a great appetite from investors for Boulder because it’s such a tight market,” Hunt said. “Boulder continues to be one of the most popular markets, not just in the state but in the nation.”

The Village Square apartment community at 645 Alter St., which has 108 units, sold for $8.15 million to a New York City-based LLC.

The investors looking to buy apartments range from large real estate investment trusts to local investment groups. Five potential buyers expressed serious interest in Prana, Kiken said, with real estate investment trusts, pension funds and insurance companies being the most eager to buy large, recently built higher-end properties such as Prana.

Smaller properties also are getting interest. Widawski said the former owners of the Canyon Creek apartments received six letters of intent.

“It was amazing to see how many people were knocking on our door,” he said.

The apartment boom shows no signs of abating, as developers are putting together big deals. Coch 101 Boulder LLC paid $4.5 million for 8.6 acres at 5460 Spine Road in Gunbarrel. A 232-unit apartment complex is planned for the site. Trammel Crow Residential Co., which is based in Dallas, is building the complex, which will be named The Alexan at Gunbarrel Flats.

Boulder-based developers and investors Conscience Bay Co. paid $16.6 million for 11 acres in the Transit Village area. Two warehouses totaling 188,000 square feet occupy the land, but the long-term plan is to redevelop the property into a mixed-use development that will include a residential component, Conscience Bay principal Eli Feldman said.

Two downtown Boulder office buildings also sold in December. The former home of the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper at 1048 Pearl St. was bought for $13.5 million by Ten Eleven Pearl LLC, a local team led by Denver-based Nichols Partnership Inc.

Nichols Partnership president Randy Nichols said the project, which was named Eleventh and Pearl, will be built “exactly” as Los Angeles-based Karlin Real Estate LLC planned. Karlin planned to demolish the existing buildings and replace them with a 175,000-square-foot mixed-use building with 125,000 square feet of Class A office and 50,000 square feet of retail and specialty use space. The expected cost of the project is $80 million.

The 33,000-square-foot office building at 1900 15th St. was purchased by San Francisco-based investors for $11.9 million. The building is occupied by Bing, a division of the Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT).

In Louisville, two retirement communities/nursing homes were sold. JVCO Real Estate Investments I purchased the Juniper Village at Louisville, 1078 S. 88th St., for $13.3 million. SHI II Cherrywood LLC paid $11 million to buy Balfour Cherrywood Village at 282 McCaslin Blvd.

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