For Brown, a Superior achievement takes shape
“I said, ‘Oh, you mean Costco,’ ” Brown joked recently.
Brown knows where Superior is now, and takes the 13,000-person town just southeast of Boulder off of U.S. Highway 36 plenty seriously. Those who have been working on bringing the town center to fruition for more than 16 years are plenty happy he does.
Brown – who spent much of the previous four decades playing a part in the development and planning of the town of Telluride, and whose connections in the development community run deep – played a significant role in the Superior Town Center finally becoming a reality. Grading of the 157-acre site at the southeast corner of McCaslin Boulevard and U.S. 36 already is under way, and construction of the first aspects of the $700 million project should begin in February.
Superior town manager Matt Magley said he has no doubt the right developer for the town center would have come along eventually. There had been plenty of misfires over the years, with developers putting the land under contract only to see their plans fall through. The reasons were many, from a lack of funds to discrepancies about what developers wanted to build versus what the city wanted to see there, to difficulty getting all of the private landowners onboard.
Brown and his experience, Magley said, arrived at just the right time along with an improved plan for the area by the city to help attract developers.
“After a while you lose track,” Magley said of the number of times some combination of the four main properties that make up the town center’s area had been under contract. “We’ve seen so many potential developers come and go. You never know if they’re the ones who are going to be able to move a project forward or not.”
Brown might have been just another side note in the town center’s frustrating history when he went under contract to buy three of the four parcels, accounting for about 110 acres, in the summer of 2012. But just about 90 days later, after soliciting several different potential developers and investors, he had California-based Ranch Capital LLC onboard to oversee the redevelopment.
Fast-forward to the summer of 2013, and Ranch Capital had the Superior trustees’ approval of its plan.
For his part, Brown, a self-described “deal guy,” deflects much of the credit for getting the town center rolling to others involved, from city officials to the land owners to Ranch Capital. But he’s as excited as any about the project.
“It was just an exciting opportunity,” said Brown, who moved to Boulder County with his wife to be closer to two of their three children. “It’s so rewarding to be involved in the deal.”
Superior Town Center will include about 1,400 homes, more than a million square feet of combined office, retail and commercial space, 12 acres of developed parks and a town square. Included is a 150,000-square-foot recreation facility that will include two National Hockey League-size ice rinks, another half-rink, an indoor soccer/lacrosse field, pool, volleyball and basketball courts, and physical therapy facilities. Also planned is a convention center hotel as well as another possible hotel.
The sports complex and medical office building will be the first pieces to break ground, with openings planned by the end of 2014. The residential and retail portions of the town center will be built as the market demands, said Randy Goodson, who is managing the development for Ranch Capital.
Ranch Capital closed on the purchase of the four main parcels of land on Oct. 31, completing a set of events set in motion by Brown’s bid in 2012.
Brown first put under contract the 38.2-acre Menkick property at the northwest corner of the development for $5 million, the 31-acre Biella property at the northeast corner for $4 million, and the 41.1-acre Spicer property at the southwest corner for $5.1 million. When Ranch decided to come onboard, Brown sold those contracts to Ranch Capital for an undisclosed sum. Ranch also landed the 33.9-acre Schuck property at the southeast corner of the town center site for $4.7 million, with Tucker Brown, a broker with FourStar Realty, representing the developer on the purchase of all four land deals.
Tucker Brown had been working a couple of unrelated real estate deals in Superior when he first heard of the town center.
“Once I kind of got an idea of what it was, I thought I had to drag my dad into it because that’s right up his alley,” Tucker Brown said.
In addition to the four private properties, the town of Superior is contributing a 10-acre piece of land to the project in exchange for Ranch Capital providing space for a new home for the ice rink. The new Boulder Valley Ice and Indoor Sports complex will be one of the signature aspects of the town center and one of the first pieces to break ground once final approval on that building is granted by the trustees, an action that could happen as soon as Dec. 20.
Real estate broker Dave Orvis of Keller Williams has represented the Menkick, Biella and Spicer family properties since about 2010. Under his watch, the properties had been under contract once before with a developer that in the end didn’t have the funds to come through on its plans.
“Scott Brown did a great job,” Orvis said. “He saw what we could do there and put it under contract, and found a group that had the money to get it done. Everybody’s relieved. All the owners are happy.”
Scott Brown said what really got the project moving and what got him interested was the work the city had done leading up to his bids on the properties.
All four of the main private properties had been annexed by Superior in 1997. The southern two properties had been zoned for office but had no approved plans. The northern two properties, Menkick and Biella, had agricultural zoning.
In 2012, Superior hired architect Carl Worthington and Oz Architecture to help put together a document that spelled out the zoning for the Menkick and Biella properties, defined the allowed uses there, and platted the property. It was in attending those meetings that Scott Brown got interested and believed the city had laid the groundwork for a successful development.
Goodson, the development manager for Ranch Capital, said all of the trial and error the city had gone through with different developers over the years had also helped make things easier for Ranch Capital, given that Superior already had analyzed closely what it did and didn’t want. For instance, Ranch Capital came in knowing that an apartment community wouldn’t be tolerated, nor would 100-percent residential, nor would a monolithic street scene where everything looked the same. The city also had a plan in place to help fund some of the high-end amenities desired.
Ranch Capital did work with the city to roll the two southern properties into the plan with the northern two properties and put the company’s own stamp on the project. But the groundwork had been laid.
“Given that Superior didn’t own the land, they put a lot of time and resources into what they wanted and didn’t want,” Goodson said.
Despite being the “deal man” who bridged the gap between landowners and Ranch Capital, Scott Brown retains no ownership stake in the Superior Town Center Project. He does remain under contract with Ranch Capital to help advise on certain development opportunities within the project, although Cassidy Turley has been retained to handle the leasing of the retail areas. Brown is just happy he knows he played a role.
“I think it was a tremendous community effort that anybody involved in it should be proud of,” he said.
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