HP Greeley building sells for $8.36 mil.

GREELEY – The former home of Hewlett-Packard Co. in Greeley, vacant for nearly five years, has been sold to a Denver-Greeley partnership for $8.36 million, with the new owners intent on finding a single user or multiple tenants for the property.

Denver real estate investors Otis Moore and Andy Klein, general partners in Westside Management LLC, and Greeley real estate investor Brian Bartels, principal of Edgewood Cos., closed the transaction quietly on Oct. 31. The deal includes the building on the northeast corner of U.S. Highway 34 Business and 71st Avenue and surrounding land that had been owned for the past three and a half years by an investment group headed by former Greeley resident Bruce Deifik.

Moore, in an interview from his Denver office, said he and his partners are in the process of setting up two metropolitan districts to pay for improvements on the property that consists of the 355,000-square feet of office and industrial space used by HP, plus 112 surrounding acres of commercial and residential land.

“We’ll continue to market the existing building on a local, regional and national level,” Moore said. The financing of the purchase, which Moore declined to describe in detail, “will allow us to be patient and look for that user.”

Deifik and his investment partners, Greeley lawyer Jeff Bedingfield and Fort Collins commercial real estate broker Rhys Christensen, bought the buildings and land from Hewlett-Packard in August 2004 for $8 million.

HP’s presence in Greeley began in 1984 when about 800 workers, most of them engaged in the company’s printer products division, occupied the new building. But the company in January 2000 announced it would vacate the site and transfer employees to Fort Collins and Loveland, a process that took three years to complete.

Users still knocking

Cathy Schulte, senior vice president of Upstate Colorado Economic Development, said she had met with the new owners to update contact information for prospective users for the building who contact her agency.

“We routinely send out information on that building,” she said. “It remains a tremendous opportunity for someone.”

Deifik in previous interviews with the Business Report expressed his frustration with the ongoing vacancy of the building, one that boasts some of the most high-grade technology features available on the region’s market.

He said in 2004 that he would continue to spend $800,000 annually in carrying costs – money necessary to pay property taxes, keep utilities connected and cover maintenance. But about 18 months ago he broached the notion that the building might be demolished if a user, or users, could not be found.

“At some point, you have to make a decision,” he said. “When that is, I don’t know. Maybe two years.”

Moore said he and his partners, while mindful of the possibility the building might have to give way, said that was not a part of their strategy.

“We’ve never limited ourselves,” he said. “We just don’t know what’s coming down the pike. You look at everything, but that’s not our strategy. It would be somewhat of a shame to knock down a building like that.”

Upstate Colorado president Larry Burkhardt said he, too, had heard discussion of the demolition possibility, but remained hopeful that the new buyers would find success in leasing the space.

“Obviously, that’s something none of us would care to think about,” Burkhardt said. “The reality is that it’s very difficult to market that. But if we could find the right user for this, can you imagine the economic impact and the psychological impact to the community? It would be tremendous.”