Real estate recovery has arrived

What direction the commercial and residential real estate markets will take in 2013 preoccupies the minds not only of people within those sectors, but also those of homeowners and business leaders who rent or own properties. It’s also a critical question for lenders, appraisers, title companies, developers and investors.

Fortunately, the Boulder Valley real estate market continues to strengthen. It seems to be true both for commercial and residential real estate.

That’s the message I took from the fifth annual Boulder Valley Real Estate Conference & Forecast, held Nov. 15 at the Millennium Harvest House Hotel in Boulder. The conference, which attracted about 330 people, included panel discussions on development, infill, national interest in commercial properties, residential pricing strategies and best practices in residential sales, as well as keynote addresses by economists Tucker Hart Adams and Mark Snead.

Lynda Gibbons, chief executive of Gibbons-White Inc., provided the commercial forecast, while D.B. Wilson, managing broker of Re/Max of Boulder, provided the residential forecast.

My takeaways? Here are a few:

• Adams, who does not engage in forecasting per se, nonetheless struck a fairly positive tone on the economy overall, belying her former reputation as “the Duchess of Doom.” Both she and Snead sounded alarms about the U.S. budget deficit, but both also expressed confidence that the “fiscal cliff” at year’s end could be avoided.

• Jeff Wingert, CEO of the W.W. Reynolds Cos., which owns about 3.5 million square feet of commercial space, mainly in Boulder and Larimer counties, said at the “Art of Development” panel that economic conditions seem ripe for new development in downtown Boulder, where the company is planning a new office development at 13th and Walnut streets. Jim Loftus, CEO of Loftus Developments, noted that certain niche retail developments also are justified.

• Home-building also is showing definite signs of life.

• Investment and development companies such as Goff Capital Partners, Hines and NewMark Merrill Mountain States each see different opportunities. Goff, which earlier acquired buildings in Flatiron Park, the Diagonal Tech Center and the Campus at Longmont, expects to upgrade the properties and land new tenants. Hines has built — or intends to build — new office buildings in Interlocken, as well as lower downtown Denver. NewMark Merrill recently unveiled plans to redevelop Twin Peaks Mall, downsizing the property while adding new theaters, new retail and restaurant space. Principal Allen Ginsborg noted that the region, from northern Colorado to Denver, remains overbuilt in retail.

• Communities through the Boulder Valley boasts an impressive array of redevelopment or infill opportunity, with projects in Boulder, Broomfield, Lafayette, Louisville and Longmont. But one presentation that left me staggered was by Dave Shinneman, acting community development director for Broomfield, who outlined projects that could add millions of square feet of commercial real estate space to the city and county of Broomfield.

All in all, it was probably the most optimistic real estate conference since we launched the program in 2008.

Christopher Wood can be reached at 303-440-4950 or


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