What will be 2017’s top deals?

The second iteration of BizWest’s “Deals of the Year” feature, in which we identify our selections for the top deals of 2016, leads one to ponder, “What will be the top deals of 2017?”

There will be, of course, some holdovers — projects that were announced last year but won’t come to fruition until we’re months — perhaps several quarters — into the new year.

That will be the case with CenturyLink Inc.’s announced plan to purchase Broomfield-based Level 3 Communications for $34 billion. This transaction requires regulatory approval and likely won’t close until the third quarter.

Beyond that, what sort of deals will populate the BizWest headlines during the new year?

Big deals. We’ve already had one blockbuster deal announced: The J.M.. Smucker Co. intends to build a $340 million factory in the Longmont portion of Weld County, employing 500 workers. The plant will make — of all things — frozen peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.

Smucker was attracted by several factors, including rail access through the Great Western Railway. Such rail service has proved critical for many projects in Northern Colorado, including the various Vestas wind plants, the Owens-Illinois bottling plant and others.

Look for other deals driven by rail, whether it be in Weld County or other sites with rail-served industrial parks.

Expansions. Last year also saw Agilent Technologies Inc. announce plans for a new, $120 million facility in Frederick in Weld County, expanding from its operation in Boulder. The Interstate 25 corridor will continue to see a wave of development, particularly as companies seek “breathing room” from the tighter confines — and higher prices — of Boulder.

Investments. The Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado have seen some enormous transactions in recent years, with portfolios of commercial real estate selling, and sometimes selling again. Apartment complexes also have been particularly hot. Look for transactions to continue throughout the year, as more national players enter the market.

Construction. It’s hard to drive anywhere in Fort Collins or Boulder these days without seeing construction cranes. Several additional projects will emerge from the ground in downtown Fort Collins and along South College Avenue, and redevelopment will be the buzzword — as usual — in Boulder.

Retail. Scheels will open this year in Johnstown, and just up the interstate in Loveland, developer Martin Lind is planning The Brands at the Ranch, a $500 million retail and entertainment project. More construction will occur at 2534 — home to Scheels — as well as Centerplace in Greeley. Old retail is suffering, but new retail will continue to enter the market to serve growing populations.

Transportation. The past year and a half has seen several improvements on major thoroughfares in the region, including bus-rapid-transit along the U.S. Highway 36 corridor between Boulder and Denver and the new climbing lane on Interstate 25 south of Berthoud. More improvements will come this year to I-25, including work on the Crossroads interchange, even as backers seek a full widening of the interstate from Colorado Highway 14 to Colorado Highway 66.

Venture capital. 2017 invariably will seek more VC fundings, equity crowdfunding and public offerings.

All in all, 2017 should be a year of many — and varied — deals. Stay tuned.

Christopher Wood can be reached at 303-630-1942, 970-232-3133 or at cwood@bizwest.com.

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