Developers Andrew Freeman, Bruce Etkin and David Johnson at the 1900 Taylor building in Louisville’s Colorado Technology Center. Jonathan Castner/For BizWest

Colorado Tech Center heads for buildout New projects to add thousands of square feet to Louisville office park

LOUISVILLE — Bruce Etkin remembers his first project in the Colorado Technology Center, a 77,872-square-foot building on Taylor Avenue that was occupied entirely by Storage Technology Corp., then one of the largest employers in the Boulder Valley.

At the time the building was constructed in 1998, the CTC focused on projects of about 30,000 square feet.

“We saw demand for larger buildings of 60,000 to 120,000 square feet,” said Etkin, a partner with David Johnson in Etkin Johnson Real Estate Partners, based in Denver.

That demand has continued unabated, with the 580-acre CTC including a total of 3.5 million to 4 million square feet of developed space, including almost 900,000 square feet owned by Etkin Johnson. And that’s not all: Etkin Johnson has another 600,000 square feet of space under development.

Etkin Johnson’s first building at 321 Taylor Ave. provided a type of building product still in demand in the region. Many of the properties — including that first one for StorageTek — offer 24-foot-clear ceiling heights, 10-foot-high glass, drive-in doors, truck docks and more — attractive options for light-industrial users.

“The buildings really supported the type of tenant that Boulder County is known for,” Etkin said, adding that the park along Louisville’s eastern border has become a go-to place for the outdoor industry, natural and organic businesses and aerospace firms.

The Colorado Technology Center is bounded by Colorado Highway 42 on the north, Dillon Road on the south, 104th Street on the east and 96th Street on the west. The park also is minutes away from U.S. Highways 287 and 36 and Northwest Parkway.

That location has made it an attractive spot for companies seeking proximity to Boulder, Denver, Longmont and Denver International Airport.

Etkin Johnson became involved with CTC with that first project in 1998. The park originally was developed by an affiliate of MDC Corp. in 1979 but had been acquired by Colorado Tech Land Co. LLC in 1998, which included Boulder-based Community Development Group. Etkin Johnson partnered with CDG, purchasing land from the partnership for development.

“There’s not many people that started stuff in 1998 and are still doing stuff in the same park after all those years,” Etkin said.

Etkin Johnson was formed in 1989, an enduring partnership that brought together Etkin, who started out in the construction business, building such notable projects as Cherry Creek Shopping Center and Denver Public Library, and Johnson, who previously had worked with another developer.

Today, Etkin Johnson owns 5 million square feet in Colorado from Longmont to Colorado Springs, half of which was acquired and half of which was developed by the company. The Colorado Technology Center constitutes a significant part of the company’s portfolio, nearly 900,000 square feet currently, in nine buildings.

But that portfolio — and developed space in the park — is about to get a lot bigger. Projects planned by Etkin Johnson and others will add at least another million square feet in the next three years, said Andrew Freeman, principal with Freeman Myre Inc.

“I think that all this land could be built out within the next five to 10 years, based on the demand being so strong,” said Freeman, who has brokered land and lease deals in the CTC since the early 1990s, and who recently began developing properties there.

“I think that all this land could be built out within the next five to 10 years, based on the demand being so strong,” Freeman said.

Etkin Johnson alone has 600,000 square feet under development, including 400,000 square feet to be developed in a 33-acre parcel that it soon will acquire along the park’s southern border. Today, Etkin said, the average office percentage is around 30 percent, with the balance being warehouse, light industrial or tech space. The average tenant occupies 60,000 square feet, he said.

“Our niche is that we’re Boulder County,” Etkin said. “That means that when the city of Boulder has been growth-constrained through its growth limits, tenants would either go to Longmont or they would come to Louisville to the Colorado Tech Center.”

Etkin Johnson owns property near CTC, including in Westminster, and will break ground in four months on a 180,000-square-foot spec building in Broomfield, at 96th Street and Northwest Parkway.

Etkin noted that the concentration of population between Boulder and Denver has made CTC an ideal location, especially for companies seeking to hire millennials.

“We’ve even seen certain tenants that were in south Denver move up to the Colorado Tech Center because they wanted to attract the millennials that were focused around Boulder, to help grow their businesses,” he said.

Freeman said he expects CTC to attract more tech companies in future years, as prices increase in Boulder and Denver. Boulder’s Pearl East and Flatiron Park business parks have seen rates climb to $15 to $17 per square foot triple net, Freeman noted, adding that companies can cut rates by $5 to $7 per square foot compared with Boulder.

Competition is fierce in the Denver market for industrial space, with marijuana-growing operations and other large companies absorbing every available space.

“There’s really nothing that’s going to be left,” he said. “CTC was really the last place.”

As CTC builds out, Etkin said companies looking to expand from the Boulder area would have essentially one option: the Interstate 25 corridor, including in Weld County.

“I think that they’re going to have to go further to the east,” he said. “We’re geography-constrained on our west side. People have to jump to the I-25 corridor. That will be the next place to go. There’s a lot of land along I-25.”

Freeman agreed. “I-25 is next,” he said. “That’s where companies are going to have to go.”

Freeman said that the Colorado Technology Center really began to take off with construction of the 96th Street interchange on U.S. 36, and with the opening of Northwest Parkway in 2003. Additionally, a wave of new development — including apartments along the Denver-Boulder corridor and Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette — has contributed to the park’s appeal, he said.

“All of that infrastructure is solidifying even more that makes it an attractive area,” Freeman said.

Christopher Wood can be reached at 303-630-1942, 970-232-3133 or cwood@bizwestmedia.com.

LOUISVILLE — Bruce Etkin remembers his first project in the Colorado Technology Center, a 77,872-square-foot building on Taylor Avenue that was occupied entirely by Storage Technology Corp., then one of the largest employers in the Boulder Valley.

At the time the building was constructed in 1998, the CTC focused on projects of about 30,000 square feet.

“We saw demand for larger buildings of 60,000 to 120,000 square feet,” said Etkin, a partner with David Johnson in Etkin Johnson Real Estate Partners, based in Denver.

That demand has continued unabated, with the 580-acre CTC including a total of 3.5 million to 4 million square feet of developed space, including almost 900,000 square feet owned by Etkin Johnson. And that’s not all: Etkin Johnson has another 600,000 square feet of space under development.

Etkin Johnson’s first building at 321 Taylor Ave. provided a type of building product still in demand in the region. Many of the properties — including that first one for StorageTek — offer 24-foot-clear ceiling heights, 10-foot-high glass, drive-in doors, truck docks and more — attractive options for light-industrial users.

“The buildings really supported the type of tenant that Boulder County is known for,” Etkin said, adding that the park along Louisville’s eastern border has become a go-to place for the outdoor industry, natural and organic businesses and aerospace firms.

The Colorado Technology…