SparkFun’s new HQ clears planning panel

BOULDER — The Boulder County Planning Commission on Dec. 19 recommended that county commissioners approve a plan by SparkFun Electronics LLC, a 10-year-old online retailer of parts and kits for electronics projects, to expand onto land its founder and chief executive is buying.

The new SparkFun headquarters is to be at 6333 W. Dry Creek Parkway, north of Colorado Highway 52 in the Boulder Tech Center. The commission also approved a plan to subdivide the 7-acre property into parcels of 4.31 and 2.69 acres.

CEO Nathan Seidle wants to build a two-story, 80,000-square-foot building for a SparkFun headquarters on the larger tract, to replace the company’s increasingly cramped 52,000-square-foot home at 6175 Longbow Drive.

The planners’ approval came with 21 conditions set by the planning staff.

Land use planner Bryan Harding said SparkFun requested that the building’s height be raised from 33 to 38 feet. “They had certain things they wanted as far as ceiling height, and they found they couldn’t go deeper because of water-table issues, so they wanted to go higher,” he said. The change might be referred back to the planning staff, Harding said, or SparkFun might opt to stick with the original 33-foot plan.

Seidle’s Flywheel Industries LLC will pay $1.46 million for the land that will include SparkFun’s new home, as part of an agreement with JEKA Investments LLC and MMU LLC, which acquired the land from JEKA.

Besides adding office and warehouse space, the new headquarters building will include a video room and classroom, allowing SparkFun to expand its electronics education programming.

Final approval for the plan will come from the Boulder County commissioners. That agenda item is tentatively set for Jan. 17, Harding said.

APARTMENT SITE SOLD: An 8.6-acre tract in Gunbarrel — the site of a planned 232-unit apartment complex — has sold for $4.5 million to a new investor.

Gunbarrel Flats LLC sold the lots at 5460, 5465, 5485 and 5490 Spine Road to Coch 101 Boulder LLC, according to Boulder County property records.

In April, developers submitted the concept plan for a 232-unit apartment complex called The Alexan at Gunbarrel Flats at the site. The Alexan brand is owned by Trammel Crow Residential Co., a Dallas-based builder and operator of multifamily residential projects.

A Trammel Crow Residential representative in Colorado did not immediately return requests for comment on Friday.

Buildings in the apartment complex would be three stories, according to plans filed with the Boulder Planning Department in April. The development would include an outdoor pool, pool house, clubhouse and fitness center.

AEROSPACE FIRM EXPANDS: Aerospace company MMA Design LLC plans to move into a 10,000-square-foot office at 2555 55th St. in Boulder in the first quarter.

MMA recently hired three employees. The aerospace company has built space-related solar arrays and space structures for government agencies such as the U.S. Air Force and NASA, according to the company website. Jeff Harvey is the company’s chief executive, and Mitchell Wiens is president and chief operating officer. MMA Design has 12 employees.

Private defense contractor companies such as Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC) also are clients, according to the website. The company also has other research-and-development and building capabilities, according to the website.

The aerospace company currently has about 2,000 square feet of space at 3665 Discovery Drive, Suite N130A, in Boulder — the Space Science Building on the University of Colorado-Boulder’s East Campus research park, said Mark Casey, MMA’s real estate agent. The company also has an approximately 1,000-square-foot Broomfield location for its machine operation, Casey said.

Casey, of Tenant Wisdom LLC in Boulder, was the tenant agent for the new space, while Hunter Barto of Dean Callan & Co. represented the landlord. The move is expected to happen this month, Casey said.

BROOMFIELD

FLATIRON RENOVATING: Shopping center executives plan to knock down two empty retail/restaurant buildings this spring near the AMC Theatres FlatIron Crossing 14.

The Village Tavern restaurant will remain at 1 West FlatIron Crossing Drive, No. 100, but the rest of the building that’s attached to the restaurant is slated to be demolished, said Kim Campbell, the spokeswoman. Another building near the existing Crate and Barrel furniture store comes down as well, Campbell said. The now-closed Canyon Café and Bloom restaurants both were in the Village at Flatiron Crossing area, which now is in transition.

Mall owner Macerich Co. said in November that it planned to spend $10 million to $15 million to redevelop the Village at FlatIron Crossing area as well as to bring a J.C. Penney Co. store to the mall.

Demolition is slated to start in the March-April time frame, depending on the weather, and be wrapped up in time for the mall’s outdoor concert series, which is scheduled to start in June, Campbell said. The goal is to “increase visibility for dining and entertainment and get us ready for future market-driven development,” Campbell said. The demolition opens up an east-west corridor for drivers and adds 260 new parking spaces, she said.

“We think there will be more synergy between the main mall and the restaurants, once the view corridor is open and parking is more convenient,” Campbell said. “We’ll see what the market will bring.”

The former Borders bookstore building and restaurants adjacent to the theater — Red Robin, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and Gordon Biersch — all will remain in place. The Broomfield planning department already has approved the demolition.

FlatIron Crossing opened in 2000. Macerich Co. repurchased 100 percent of the 1.5 million-square-foot mall in a $323 million deal in November. Macerich Co. (NYSE: MAC) is a Santa Monica, California-based real estate investment trust. It has had a stake in FlatIron Crossing since 2002, but in 2009 sold 75 percent of it.

LONGMONT

COLDWELL MOVING OFFICE: Coldwell Banker NRT real-estate brokerage has leased new office space in Longmont and should open there in the second week of January.

The real-estate firm will move from a 5,300-square-foot space with no external signage on the fifth floor of a bank building at 1707 N. Main St. to a 3,328-square-foot ground-floor space in Meadowview Village, 600 S. Airport Road.

“It has much higher visibility,” said Chris Mygatt, president and chief operating officer of Coldwell Banker for Colorado. The brokerage needed less space, he said, because “we’ve spent thousands in agent technology, including flat-screen TVs, presentation rooms and high-end workspaces. But also, we’ll be much more a part of the community in a center that already has restaurants, other shops, a chocolate store. … And we’ll be in an affluent area.”

The Longmont office has about 32 or 33 agents, said Mygatt, adding that he hopes to expand that number to about 40 in 2013.

Managing broker Jason Kruse of The Colorado Group Inc. in Boulder represented the landlord, and David C. Freyer Commercial Realty Advisor, an Evergreen-based sole proprietorship, represented the tenant.

Proto’s pizzeria, Sakura Japanese restaurant and Robin Chocolates operate in the center, and Longmont-based Oskar Blues brewery has considered opening an eatery in another space at the center which had been home to Jack’s restaurant. Kruse said the center is 90 percent leased.

Coldwell Banker and NRT LLC are subsidiaries of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY).

Michael Davidson can be reached at 303-630-1943 or mdavidson@bcbr.com. Dallas Heltzell and Beth Potter contributed to this report.

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