Water Valley gem part of Martin Lind’s legacy 2007 Bravo! Entrepreneur — Outlying Communities

WINDSOR — In the 1960s and ’70s, Karla and Ted Lind watched parts of the plan for Water Valley hatch in conversations around the dinner table at their farmhouse south of Windsor.

“Martin was always, always trying to come up with some other way to use this ground other than farming it,” Karla Lind said of her precocious son. “He had all sorts of ideas, none of them having anything to do with farming.”

Three decades later, Water Valley is regarded both locally and outside the region as one of the most carefully planned mixed-use developments anywhere in Colorado.

It is also part of what makes Lind the 2007 Bravo! Entrepreneur Award winner for outlying communities.

“She’s right,” Lind said about his mother. “I wanted to do anything but go back and forth with a tractor. We thought about fish farms. We talked about apple orchards.”

Through the 1980s, Lind watched other land developers at work, building tract neighborhoods on Weld County farm ground. He took lessons from each. Over the years a vision for Water Valley, a residential development unlike any other in the vicinity, began to emerge.

It would be something vastly different than “a bunch of streets pushed into a cornfield,” as Lind often says about tract development.

“The very word ‘developer’ deserves a raised eyebrow,” Lind said. “So many of them take shortcuts, and don’t follow through in a responsible way. The reputation of this industry is marred by the predecessors who took the shortcuts.”

Before getting into the land development business, Lind and his former partner, ex-Denver Bronco Steve Watson, got into the sand-and-gravel business. Poudre Tech Aggregates Inc. rearranged the landscape of Windsor’s southern flank in a way that made it the perfect canvas for the artistry that many people say resulted in Water Valley.

Five manmade lakes totaling 300 acres — “my favorite kind of open space,” as Lind says — wrap around the careful arrangement of Pelican Lakes Golf Course and the nearby neighborhoods. Lind and Watson formed Trollco Inc., the umbrella company for development of Water Valley and subsequent projects.

“He’s very resourceful and very creative, and has always been an innovator,” Watson said about Lind in a 2001 interview. “For me, it was a real learning experience. It was exciting.”

The Lind-Watson partnership dissolved in 2001 with Watson returning to his first love, football, as a member of the Broncos coaching staff. Lind bought out Watson’s interest, and pursued other endeavors.

Water Valley South, and its Pelican Falls nine-hole golf addition, took shape. Lind and partners secured a Central Hockey League franchise for the hugely successful Colorado Eagles, a team that consistently sells out the Budweiser Events Center.

Lind’s far-reaching plans encompass Eagle Crossing Business Park, stretching eastward from The Ranch and the Budweiser Events Center, and new commercial development plans for Fort Collins-Loveland Airport’s southern edge.

Lind and his employees are also weathering a real estate downturn caused by a regional oversupply “of every product on the market,” Lind said.

“But anybody who knows me knows that I’m the eternal optimist. I’m also a realist,” he said. “This oversupply is going to be very hard on a lot of people, and it will be no different for us than anybody else. The only difference is that we have a little wider wheelbase.”