Newsmakers 2012

The following top business news stories of 2012 in Boulder and Broomfield counties was compiled and ranked by the Boulder County Business Report’s editorial staff.

Newsmaker 1 – Area real estate, construction gain momentum
Whether it was new residential or commercial construction, sales of existing properties or the rental scene, the real-estate market in Boulder and Broomfield counties began picking up steam in 2012.

A pending boom in new single-family housing announced in 2012 looks set to occur in 2013, led in part by some of the largest homebuilders in the nation. Meanwhile, the area’s commercial real-estate market had a pretty good year, and also looks set to enter 2013 with some momentum.

Meritage Homes of Colorado and Ryland Homes recently purchased dozens of lots for new developments or to dramatically expand an existing community.

Ryland Homes in November closed on a $1.1 million deal to acquire 38 lots in the Coal Creek subdivision in Lafayette. It was the first of several large purchases in the city that Ryland plans to make during the next year or so, Denver division president Dan Nickless said.

In addition to its activity in Coal Creek, Ryland Homes is building in Louisville at Steel Ranch. It is part of the Ryland Group Inc. (NYSE: RYL), a national homebuilder based in Westlake Village, California.

In Erie, Meritage Homes of Colorado Inc. is getting set to go to work on another development. It paid $576,000 in November for 32 lots, according to Boulder County property records. Meritage is building a community it calls Flatiron Meadows on the land, which is on the south side of Erie Parkway between U.S. Highway 287 and North 119th Street. The subdivision will have two- and three-bedroom homes of from 1,779 to 3,420 square feet.

In the multifamily housing market, apartment projects in Gunbarrel and along 28th Street near the University of Colorado-Boulder are going through the planning process. In downtown Longmont, ground was broken in November for the Roosevelt Park Apartments, a $21 million, 115-unit mixed-use development.

On the commercial front, vacancy rates declined and rental rates increased for office space in Boulder and Broomfield counties, with rents reaching $30 per square foot in downtown Boulder. The downtown vacancy rate is about 6 percent.

In the city of Boulder, average office rents reached $21.50 per square foot with an 8 percent vacancy rate, and the average rent for Boulder County reached $20.50 per square foot. In Broomfield, the vacancy rate was 14 percent, and the average rent reached $27.50 per square foot.

W.W. Reynolds Cos. drew up plans for a major office building at 13th and Walnut streets. And in a late December deal, Ten Eleven Pearl LLC, a local team lead by Denver-based Nichols Partnership Inc., purchased the properties at 1048 Pearl St. and 1023 Walnut St. in Boulder from Karlin Real Estate, a Los Angeles-based real estate investment and development group. The new owner will carryout a plan to redevelop the former Daily Camera building.

Newsmaker 2 – DigitalGlobe buys one-time suitor GeoEye

LONGMONT — DigitalGlobe Inc., a Longmont-based provider of high-resolution satellite imagery, announced in July that its board of directors had reached a definitive merger agreement with competitor GeoEye Inc. in a stock and cash transaction valued at approximately $900 million.

The deal gave DigitalGlobe leadership of the new company and a dominant role in the satellite-imagery industry, and ended merger talks that began in February when Herndon, Virginia-based GeoEye attempted to acquire DigitalGlobe in an unsolicited hostile takeover.

The combined company retained the DigitalGlobe name and New York Stock Exchange symbol DGI, and is headquartered in Longmont. Jeffery Tarr, DigitalGlobe president and chief executive, retains those roles in the new company.

DigitalGlobe employs about 600 people at its Longmont headquarters, and GeoEye has about 130 employees in Thornton.

The new DigitalGlobe is expected to have five Earth-observation satellites, two more under construction, and a broad suite of high-value geospatial production and analytic services.

DigitalGlobe and GeoEye began merger talks in February, when GeoEye made an unsolicited takeover offer. DigitalGlobe responded by offering to acquire GeoEye in a deal that would allow it to retain control of the new company.

GeoEye made its bid public on May 4, and two days later DigitalGlobe’s board of directors announced it had rejected the bid. Digital Globe also harshly criticized GeoEye for making its acquisition attempt public.

Despite the criticism, DigitalGlobe said it remained interested in acquiring GeoEye.

The potential loss of government contracts was a big deal for both companies, and the combination is expected to aid in securing federal dollars.

Newsmaker 3 – Phillips pulls out of Louisville

LOUISVILLE — Phillips 66 told the city of Louisville in October it would not build a research and training center in the city and was putting its 432-acre property up for sale.

The project, which was announced in 2008, was expected to bring 7,000 jobs and millions of dollars in investment and spending to the area.

ConocoPhillips had received a warm embrace in 2008 when it announced plans to build a major training and research center at the site. ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP), one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, paid $55.6 million for the property, according to Boulder County property records.

In the years after the announcement, ConocoPhillips made its commitment to the project clear. The company in 2010 filed preliminary site development plans that envisioned 2.5 million square feet of research and office space at the site. The first 1.6 million square feet were to be completed by 2013, according to plans at the time. ConocoPhillips also demolished the 1.8 million square feet of buildings on the site that previously housed Storage Technology Corp.

But as the worldwide economic slump continued, signs began emerging that ConocoPhillips might back out of the project. After its preliminary plans were approved by Louisville, ConocoPhillips twice asked for extensions before filing its final site plans. When ConocoPhillips spun off its refining and retail assets to Phillips 66 in 2011, the new company also got the Louisville project.

Phillips 66’s corporate focus did not seem to be aligned with the vision for the research center, which was to develop alternative fuels.

Newsmaker 4 – Will Boulder run power grid?

BOULDER — In 2012, the Boulder City Council set the criteria it will use to determine whether it should form a municipal electric utility, and city staffers and consultants are due to make a recommendation about how the city should proceed to the council in March.

Boulder City Council voted 7-1 on Nov. 15 to approve the metrics it will use to evaluate whether or not forming a municipal electric utility is feasible.

Boulder residents narrowly approved two ballot measures in 2011 giving City Council the authority to create a utility and allocate money to pay for technical and financial studies and potential litigation. The ballot measures established general criteria the utility would have to meet before its creation and put them in the City Charter. The utility would have to have rates that don’t exceed those of Xcel Energy, which now owns the Boulder grid. The utility would have to be as reliable as Xcel, produce revenues sufficient to cover operational costs and debt payments and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

The measure approved by the council establishes the data the city will collect and sets performance and financial thresholds it must meet before a utility can be created.

Xcel Energy has said it is not willing to sell its assets to the city.

If it decides to continue toward creating a utility, the city and Xcel likely would face off in a state condemnation court and before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as they fight over the value of Xcel’s system and what Boulder would have to pay for stranded costs. In late December, both sides expressed a willingness to discuss a potential partnership, foregoing lengthy and costly litigation.

Newsmaker 5 – Zayo grows through acquisition

LOUISVILLE — Zayo Group LLC, a Louisville-based company that is one of the fastest-growing telecoms in the country, wound up a year of acquisitions and expansion announcing that it will be opening a new office in Boulder.

The additional office of a yet-to-be disclosed location and size will be an expansion, according to Scott Reardon, Zayo’s vice president for corporate development and investor relations.

Founded in 2007, Zayo has risen to prominence because of an aggressive growth strategy. It has bought other telecom companies, including AboveNet Inc. (NYSE: ABVT), acquired during the summer for $2.2 billion. Zayo has completed 22 acquisitions, and its network now is more than 68,500 route miles, with more than 10,000 buildings and 2,400 cell towers on-net.

Those miles include long-haul lines and denser networks within cities, such as its greater Denver network, where Zayo has about 660 buildings on-net.

But Zayo doesn’t have assets in its backyard of Boulder and Broomfield counties — at least not yet. The company announced in July it would add 521 route miles to its Denver network. The expansion will reach into Boulder and Longmont and from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins.

Zayo’s speeds for dedicated Internet access and Ethernet run up to 10 gigabytes per second. Potential customers that need that kind of speed are in large industries such as tech, education and energy or research and development.

The number of companies and industries that need that much bandwidth continues to grow, and the cost of getting connected will drop once Zayo’s expansion is complete. That will make fiber a reasonable option for even more companies.

Newsmaker 6 – Longmont voters ban fracking

LONGMONT — Voters’ in Longmont approved a ban on the use of hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and gas. The resultcould set off legal battles pitting mineral-rights interests against local governments’ right of self-determination.

Ballot Question 300, approved by 59 percent of Longmont residents who voted in the Nov. 6 general election, would prohibit companies’ use of the procedure popularly known as “fracking” within city limits, as well as forbidding storage of fracking waste in the city.

The procedure involves high-pressure infusion of fluid into deposits of rock deep beneath the Earth’s surface to free up deposits of oil or gas for extraction. Supporters and opponents of fracking argue over its potential risk to groundwater and air quality.

The issue arose in Longmont in 2011 after Lakewood-based TOP Operating Co. announced plans to drill wells at two sites on the city’s eastern edge. The city responded in July by tightening its oil and gas regulations, which included a ban on drilling in residential areas. That prompted a lawsuit by the state, which contended the action represented a “taking” of mineral rights. Longmont citizens responded by petitioning Question 300 onto the ballot.

Opponents of the ballot issue contended that the measure could pre-empt negotiations with the state and lead to another lawsuit. Supporters countered that no “taking” would be involved because drilling would still be permitted and the only restriction would be on the method used.

The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that local governments can’t ban drilling outright, but has considered lesser restrictions case by case.

Newsmaker 7 – Campus sells for $58.3 million

LONGMONT — Goff Capital Partners acquired the Campus at Longmont, a business park, in mid-October from Circle Capital Longmont LLC for $58.3 million.

The portfolio includes 34 buildings and has 1.13 million square feet of office, flex and warehouse space on 130 acres. The price is equivalent to about $51.60 per square foot.

The deal was Goff Capital Partners’ second major acquisition in 12 months. The partnership, which has a local office in Centennial, now owns approximately 2 million square feet and 55 properties in Boulder County. Goff Capital Partners’ first acquisition was Flatiron Park in Boulder, which it bought in November 2011.

Goff Capital Partners acquired the Campus at Longmont for the same reasons it bought Flatiron Park, managing principal Conrad Suszynski said. Goff’s acquisition targets are large portfolios in attractive markets, and the two business parks Goff now owns were among the largest portfolios in Boulder County.

Suszynski said a highly educated workforce, high quality of life and a strong entrepreneurial climate are reasons companies like relocating to or expanding in Boulder and Longmont. The mix of potential tenants and the property also made the Campus an attractive purchase.

Circle Capital Longmont LLC, co-owned by Terry Fitzpatrick and R. Randall Clark, named the properties the Campus at Longmont after buying the properties in 2005 as part of a 2 million-square-foot portfolio from Pratt Properties in a $142 million deal.

Since acquiring the properties from Pratt, Circle Capital had sold portions of its holdings. According to Boulder County property records, Circle Capital sold the properties for $158.67 million, a $16.6 million profit.

Newsmaker 8 – Twin Peaks remodel planned

LONGMONT — The future of Twin Peaks Mall in Longmont became clearer in 2012, following its owner’s unveiling of a plan to convert the shopping center into an outdoor retail “village” featuring a new multiplex cinema and an anchor tenant.

Twin Peaks Mall was acquired in February by NewMark Merrill Mountain States for $8.5 million. The 555,000-square-foot, fully enclosed mall at 1250 S. Hover St. has been struggling for many years, but NewMark Merrill is confident it can revitalize the property.

The property will go through a dramatic $80 million makeover, according to a plan unveiled Sept. 6 by NewMark Merrill managing director and principal Allen Ginsborg.

The plan shows Twin Peaks Mall will lose its roof and become what Ginsborg called a four-building “retail village” built around a central promenade and fountain.

Dillard’s, which owns and operates its store, will be converted into a free-standing store.

Ginsborg said he hopes to start construction in 2013 and have it completed by 2014.

Ginsborg told the Longmont City Council on Dec. 11 that he had snared an unnamed large-format, general retail store to anchor 100,000 square feet at the mall’s northeast corner.

Money for the project still must be obtained. The $80 million price tag is much higher than the $25 million to $50 million NewMark Merrill said it would need to redevelop the mall when it announced its acquisition.

NewMark Merrill also is talking with natural grocery retailers, local breweries and restaurants about becoming tenants at Twin Peaks.

Newsmaker 9 – More natural grocers sprout

Widely hailed as the epicenter of the nation’s natural and organic foods industry, Boulder County is seeing a bumper crop of new retailers.

Sprouts Farmers Market in March acquired Sunflower Farmers Market, which was founded in Boulder in 2002. Sunflower operated 36 stores in eight states, including 12 stores in Colorado. Sprouts will open in January in a southwest Longmont space formerly occupied by a Borders bookstore.

Local fans hailed the long-awaited announcement that Trader Joe’s would open two stores in Colorado in 2013 — but then were disappointed to hear that the chain’s popular discount wines known as Two-Buck Chuck would not be offered in Boulder. Unlike most states, Colorado law limits each chain or independent grocer to apply for only one license to sell full-strength liquor, and Monrovia, California-based Trader Joe’s decided that its Denver store would be the state’s designated wine merchant.

The chain unveiled plans in February for the 14,000-square-foot Boulder location on the site of an Applebee’s restaurant at 1906 28th St. on the north end of the Twenty Ninth Street shopping district. Original plans called for Applebee’s to shut down late this year, but the restaurant closed in early May.

The Louisville City Council in November approved a 24,000-square-foot Alfalfa’s Market at 707 E. South Boulder Road as part of a multi-use complex being spearheaded by Boulder developer Jim Loftus. Louisville planners have estimated that the new grocery store may bring as many as100 full- and part-time jobs to the city and generate about $3 million in sales-tax revenue in the first 10 years that it’s open.

Lucky’s Market on Nov. 27 announced plans for the opening of its second location, a 26,000-square-foot market at 700 Ken Pratt Blvd. in the Parkway Center in Longmont, Lucky’s market and cafe has been open in north Boulder for nearly a decade.

In December, leasing associate Ross Carpenter of Fort Collins-based NewMark Merrill Mountain States said the company is talking with natural grocery retailers about becoming tenants in a proposed “retail village” at Twin Peaks Mall in Longmont, a struggling shopping center being redeveloped by NewMark Merrill. With Lucky’s, Sprouts and Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage as health-food competition in Longmont, observers speculated that Twin Peaks could lure Boulder-based Alfalfa’s or even Whole Foods Market Inc. (Nasdaq: WFMI).

Newsmaker 10 – WhiteWave issues IPO

BROOMFIELD — WhiteWave Foods Co. raised $391 million in its initial public offering Oct. 26 as the organic dairy company completed its transition from a unit of Dean Foods Co. to an independent company.

WhiteWave (NYSE: WWAV) is based in Broomfield and produces Horizon Organic milk, Silk soymilk, Land O’ Lakes dairy products and International Delight coffee creamers.

WhiteWave’s offering went better than expected. The company priced its Class A common stock at $17 per share, but it opened at $19. It peaked at $19.17 before falling.

WhiteWave had been expected to price the stock between $14 and $16 per share. The company sold 23 million shares Oct. 26, well above the 20 million shares it initially expected to sell.

After the offering, Dean Foods Co. continues to own 86.7 percent of the company’s stock and retains 98.5 percent of voting power.

WhiteWave immediately looked to expand, reaching an agreement to label yogurt with the Alpro brand in Europe with the Silk moniker in the United States. Alpro’s Fruity and Creamy yogurt is one of several products WhiteWave plans to launch in coming months. Consumers will get a chance to taste a 100-calorie iced coffee beverage from WhiteWave’s International Delight brand as well as a soy latte beverage, and a sugar-free, caramel creamer from International Delight will come out in January. WhiteWave also has plans to work with former parent Dean Foods on a single-serving TruMoo chocolate milk product.

In a related move, WhiteWave will get $60 million as part of Dean’s sale of its Morningstar Foods division to Montreal-based Saputo Inc.

Newsmaker 11 – Flynt grabs New Frontier

A company founded and led by Larry Flynt out-hustled its competition in its bid to take over New Frontier Media Inc., a Boulder-based adult entertainment company.

New Frontier Media and LFP Broadcasting LLC announced Oct. 15 that they signed a definitive agreement in which LFP Inc. will pay about $33 million to acquire New Frontier Media (Nasdaq: NOOF). The acquisition was expected to close by the end of the year.

LFP Broadcasting is an affiliate of LFP Inc., which was founded by Flynt, best known as the founder of Hustler magazine. LFP markets the Hustler properties, including Hustler TV, and is based in Beverly Hills, California.

New Frontier Media distributes adult content to satellite and cable television companies which then broadcast it to consumers via video-on-demand or pay-per-view. New Frontier Media also produces adult and mainstream films.

New Frontier chairman Alan L. Isaacman did not address whether New Frontier Media would remain in Boulder, but said the companies are “committed to ensuring stability, continuity and consistency for our employees and customers as we integrate our two companies.”

New Frontier Media’s board of directors voted unanimously to recommend shareholders tender their shares. As a result of the transaction, the common stock would no longer be publicly owned or traded on the Nasdaq market.

Newsmaker 12 – Health system HQ moves in

BROOMFIELD — SCL Health System, a faith-based, not-for-profit health-care organization, moved its headquarters from Lenexa, Kansas, to Broomfield and Denver in mid-2012.

Michael A. Slubowski, president and chief executive, said the move would create 750 new jobs over the next four years and hailed the move to “a state that is such a significant part of our history.” The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth opened its first hospital in 1864 in Kansas and St. Joseph Hospital in Denver in 1873.

SCL moved its revenue service center to space in Broomfield near U.S. Highway 36 and Wadsworth Boulevard. Its new system headquarters office is near Speer Boulevard and Interstate 25 in downtown Denver, and its information technology organization occupies space near Colfax Avenue and Simms Street in Lakewood.

Approval from state Attorney General John Suthers’ office in October gave SCL operational control over three Exempla hospitals and a network of physician clinics.

SCL will pay its nonprofit partner Community First Foundation in Arvada $275 million over 20 years as part of the governance change. SCL and Community First each remain members of Exempla Inc., which is governed by a community-based board of directors. The board oversees three metro-area hospitals including Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette as well as the Exempla Physician Network of more than 100 clinics, according to the press statement. Community First Foundation will name one director to the board.

SCL is a $2.7 billion network that operates 11 hospitals, four “safety net” clinics, one children’s mental-health center and more than 100 ambulatory service centers in Colorado, California, Kansas and Montana.

Newsmaker 13 – Dream Chaser passes tests

The dream of a Dream Chaser orbital crew vehicle came a step closer to reality May 29 after successful flight testing at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield.

The tests, conducted by Sierra Nevada Corp., which is based in Sparks, Nevada and has a major operation in Louisville, checked the nose landing gear for the privately owned and operated vehicle, which is meant to transport up to seven crew members and cargo to and from the International Space Station.

Test results were presented to NASA on June 25, and the successful milestone review was completed the same day, confirming the results of similar tests done in February.

The reusable Dream Chaser underwent more tests in summer at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center on a runway in the middle of the Mojave Desert.

Buoyed by the successes, Sierra Nevada moved to add 79 jobs to its Louisville operation and expand into a vacant 50,000-square-foot space. The Louisville City Council on Nov. 5 approved a business-assistance agreement with Sierra Nevada, which employs about 125 people in the Colorado Tech Center.

Most of the new employees will be engineers with an average salary of $120,000 per year, according to the Louisville Economic Development Department.

The new space for Sierra Nevada is at 315 CTC Blvd., which formerly was occupied by Inovonics Wireless Corp. Sierra Nevada plans to spend $2.2 million for core and shell improvements, and Louisville agreed to a $28,000 rebate on building fees and use taxes.

Newsmaker 14 – Startup eyes lunar travel

BOULDER — Golden Spike Co., a Boulder-based aerospace startup, announced in December it plans to send a privately funded and built spacecraft to the moon by 2020.

Golden Spike intends to be the first to offer routine exploration expeditions to the surface of the moon, president and chief executive Alan Stern said. Stern lives in Niwot and is an associate vice president at the Southwest Research Institute, which has its department of space studies in Boulder.

More notably, Stern is the former chief of NASA’s space and earth science programs, where he directed a $4.4 billion organization with 93 separate flight missions and a program of more than 3,000 research grants. He also is a consultant to several aerospace companies.

Golden Spike intends to use existing rockets and to provide trips to the moon for nations, individuals and corporations. Using existing rockets and commercial-crew spacecraft currently being developed by other private companies will allow Golden Spike to send its first mission to the moon for between $7 billion and $8 billion. That also would finance the company’s startup costs and investments. It estimates subsequent missions will cost about $1.4 billion.

The company’s forecast believes there is sufficient demand for 20 to 30 lunar missions by 2030. Stern said 15 to 25 nations are interested in missions.

Newsmaker 15 – JOBS bill fuels startups

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The signing of the JOBS Act inspired a handful of the area’s top entrepreneurs to visit the White House in early April. Some of those same executives hoped to travel to Wall Street for an initial public offering a little sooner than previously expected. For entrepreneurs and investors, it means they might have new ways to get their startups off the ground.

The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act was signed into law April 5 by President Obama. The JOBS Act’s purpose is to make it easier for growing private companies to go public and to help startups raise money from new methods such as crowd funding. The JOBS Act also allows new types of investors to invest in private companies.

Louisville-based Zayo Group’s chief executive Dan Caruso looked over President Obama’s shoulder as he signed the bill. Rally Software Development Corp. CEO Tim Miller and Return Path Inc. CEO and chairman Matt Blumberg were among the guests who watched from seats in the White House Rose Garden.

Zayo, Rally and Return Path all are rapidly growing companies backed by substantial amounts of venture capital and are considered candidates for initial public offerings.

The JOBS Act reduces disclosure requirements for private companies about to make an IPO.

Newsmaker 16 – GE Lighting buys Albeo

BOULDER — Albeo Technologies Inc., a Boulder-based manufacturer of commercial LED lighting systems, was acquired in November by GE Lighting for an undisclosed price.

Albeo is a private company formed in 2004 by co-founders Jeff Bisberg, chief executive, and Peter Van Laanen, chief technical officer. The company has been growing rapidly in the past year, and reported revenue of nearly $10.6 million in 2011, a more than 51 percent increase from 2010 sales of $7 million and a 427 percent increase from the $2 million the company sold in 2009.

In March, Albeo raised $8 million in a combination of venture capital and debt-financing. Since its founding, it has raised $12.75 million from Green Spark Ventures, Braemer Energy Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank.

Albeo employs about 50 full-time and 15 temporary employees. It designs and builds light-emitting diode, or LED, systems used in commercial, warehouse, industrial, cold storage, office, data center, food processing, parking garage, school, sporting and correctional settings, according to a release from the GE. Its product line includes systems that are high-bay, low-bay, linear, surface mount and under cabinet fixtures, the release said.

GE Lighting is a division of General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE). It employs about 15,000 people in more than 100 countries, according to the company.

Newsmaker 17 – CU biotech building opens

BOULDER — University of Colorado-Boulder officials are confident the new Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building is a “transformative” project.

The 257,000-square-foot building on CU’s east campus is the new home of its Biofrontiers Institute, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Division of Chemistry. The university says 60 senior faculty researchers and more than 500 research and support staff work at the Caruthers building, which can be expanded by another 54,000 square feet.

Construction of the $160 million project began in September 2009, and general contractor J.E. Dunn turned the building over to CU in February. Researchers, staff and equipment slowly then made their way to the building, which became fully operational by summer.

CU officials were confident the building would succeed in its goals of fostering collaboration and world-class scientific research while setting a new standard for environmental sustainability.

To achieve that, architects started meeting with faculty about six years ago to identify their needs and goals. It quickly became apparent they wanted the building’s design to encourage faculty and students to interact with each other outside the classroom or lab.

The building is organized around a central “Main Street,” which runs down its north-south axis. The building is subdivided into neighborhoods, each with ample lounges stocked with whiteboards and comfortable furniture.

Newsmaker 18 – Midyette sells downtown holdings

BOULDER — J Nold Midyette, owner of Pearl Street Mall Properties and one of the largest real estate portfolios in downtown Boulder, in June sold a 56 percent share of his holdings to Unico Properties Inc., a Seattle-based real estate investment company.

Unico obtained the portfolio, which includes 15 buildings with about 356,000 square feet of retail, office and restaurant space, for an undisclosed price.

Unico will manage and lease the properties from a local office, a spokesman for Unico said. It also plans to continue with upgrades to properties started by Midyette, such as a third-floor addition to 1600 Pearl St., the spokesman.

The portfolio features some of the Pearl Street Mall’s most prime properties, including the old Citizens National Bank building at 1426 Pearl St., the Crystal Building, home of the Cheesecake Factory restaurant at 1401-1420 Pearl St., and the former home of Borders bookstore at 1600 Pearl St. among others. It also includes the parking garage at 15th and Spruce streets.

Unico owns and operates more than 14 million square feet of premier office properties, medical office buildings and multifamily residences throughout the western United States. It has a portfolio of 1 million square feet in Denver.

Newsmaker 19 – Heady days for craft brewers

Local craft breweries, spurred by the success of new products and a kegful of awards at prestigious international competitions, announced ambitious growth plans in 2012.

Oskar Blues Brewery LLC will open Chuburger, its fourth Colorado restaurant, in its hometown of Longmont. The 3,500-square-foot eatery at 1225 Ken Pratt Blvd. is scheduled to open Feb. 1.

Oskar Blues considered opening a brewpub and restaurant in Boulder’s historic depot at Boulder Junction. Last spring, the company signed a letter of intent to lease space in the depot but did not finalize a lease and decided to focus attention elsewhere. It was to open a new brewery and tasting room in Brevard, North Carolina, this month, and recently expanded into large markets such as Chicago and Ohio.

Boulder-based Twisted Pine doubled the size of its tap room and the rest of its brewery at 3201 Walnut St. this year. The renovation added a stage for live music, a new oven, a private upstairs event space and new offices.

Left Hand Brewing Co. completed a $2.2 million upgrade of its brewery in Longmont at 1265 Boston Ave. That upgrade and another $1.5 million round of improvements allowed Left Hand to handle more growth without having to build another facility.

On Dec. 1, Spirit Hounds LLC held a grand opening for a tasting room for Spirit Hound Distillers, which crafts its gin and other liquors on a homemade still with local ingredients. The tasting room, at 4196 Ute Highway, east of Lyons, has seating for 40 and bar and cocktail service featuring distillery products.

In December, Adam and Larry Avery, the father-son team that founded and financed Avery Brewing Co. in 1993, bought a 5.6- acre property at 4910 and 4920 Nautilus Court in northeast Boulder. Avery plans to build a state-of-the-art brewery for wholesale production, a tap room and restaurant and a merchandise shop. The location will include an aerial walkway for self-guided tours. To open in 2014, the brewery and restaurant will have 75,000 square feet of production and warehouse space.

Six craft breweries in Boulder and Longmont won medals in October at the Great American Beer Festival, the largest commercial beer competition in the world, which is hosted annually in Denver and run by the Boulder-based Brewers Association. Three of them also brought home awards from the 2012 European Beer Star Awards in Germany.

Newsmaker 20 – Race visitors spent $2.4 million

BOULDER — Visitors who came to Boulder specifically to watch a USA Pro Cycling Challenge event spent an estimated $2.4 million, according to information from a study by the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

Spending related to the Aug. 25 bike race meant an additional estimated $48,000 in sales tax revenue to Boulder city coffers, according to the study. Boulder hosted the sixth stage of the seven-day statewide race, including a downtown festival and a race finish atop Flagstaff Mountain.

In all, Boulder visitors brought about $98,000 in additional sales tax revenue to Boulder that day. Many parents also were in town that weekend to help their students move in at CU.

More than 400 race-watchers were surveyed by 15 student workers in the Leeds survey. The city paid up to $10,000 for the study.

City costs to host a USA Pro Cycling Challenge stage in 2013 would be $200,000 or more, according to a report. When Boulder announced it would not try for another Pro Cycling Challenge stage in 2013, members of its organizing committee offered to help Longmont launch a bid. On Nov. 13, the Longmont City Council voted 7-0 to try for a stage in the bicycle race. About 35 cities are applying to be part of the race, and from 10 to 14 will be chosen.

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