Retail sector in Breckenridge, Colo., appears poised for strong winter

A report predicts a Colorado ski town will have a strong commercial retail sector this winter.

The economic outlook for commercial and retail trends changed drastically in Breckenridge, Colo., in just 12 months, according to the Summit Daily.

"Looking at a year ago, there's a lot more optimism now," Jack Wolfe, president of Wolfe & Company Real Estate, told the Summit Daily after revealing a quarterly report from his company.

Based on the business environment in and around Breckenridge, the quarterly report said retail vacancies in the city were at their lowest level for a quarter since 2007.

There were 23 vacant retail spaces in Breckenridge as of Oct. 2. That is a decline of more than a 23 percent from 2012.

Wolfe pointed to one key statistic for a growing commercial and retail environment: lodging.

"Lodging is a key component as to how well everyone is doing," Wolfe said. "The higher the occupancy, that directly contributes to retail and more people here spending money."

Occupancy was down 1.2 percent year-over-year in September, but the town is expected to post a 14 percent gain in occupancy pacing for the upcoming six months, October through March. Wolfe believes that rate could make it a favorable time for restaurants and retailers throughout the winter.

From the start of the year through August, all retail sales are ahead of the 2012 pace by 14 percent. Tax revenues, too, are surging past last year by the tune of 9.34 percent.

"We're starting to see restaurants having the best year ever — and we said last year was the best year ever," Wolfe said.

Wolfe said that most of the retail sector is back to 2007 levels, which was a year of strength prior to the recession. Still, some businesses are still struggling to survive.

"That doesn't mean all businesses are dancing in the street," he said. "The luxury section was hit the hardest, they have the farthest to go to come back."

From commercial to residential
In Parker, Colo., which is roughly 20 miles southeast of Denver, 900 apartments and as much as 40,000 square feet of commercial space could be built on an undeveloped property near E-470 and South Parker Road.

Edward Fitzpatrick, the landowner and executive vice president of the Shopoff Group, is asking the town to slash the amount of previously approved commercial space so more apartment units can be built. The town previously approved 306 units.

"Land use is all a balance," Fitzpatrick said. "I've seen it before in other locations: there's too much retail land available and it's not supported by enough rooftops nearby."

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