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Loveland's 80 MPH main street: following the McWhinney brothers, other developers flock to Interstate 25.

BARELY NINE YEARS AGO, THE INTERSECTION OF INTERSTATE 25 AND U.S. HIGHWAY 34 in Loveland was a sea of farmland punctuated by a newly opened Outlet Mall. The family that owned the land around the mall since 1866 had just lost its patriarch to cancer, and two of his sons--both barely in their 20s--would take over their father's fledgling development company and grow the business into a major player in Colorado real estate development.

The McWhinney brothers' Centerra project is now the fastest growing and most successful development in the city of Loveland, and the most prominent project along 1-25 between E-470 in north metro Denver and the Wyoming border. While McWhinney Enterprises controls most of the land around the intersection, its success has attracted other commercial and residential developers, creating a growth and tax-revenue bonanza for Loveland and its 63,000 residents.

In essence, it has made 1-25 Loveland's main street.

"Even small shops like The Lighting Shop have display windows facing 1-25," said Greg George, director of planning for the City of Loveland. "It seems crazy to be going 80 miles per hour and trying to pick out a light fixture, but that's what's going on."

George said about half of the developable land in Centerra and surrounding area has been spoken for, and Loveland has annex plans for most of the other parcels with development written on them. "There is still a lot of vacant land east of 1-25. All of that land will be annexed into the city of Loveland," George said. "There has been a lot of pressure put on local government to keep up with commerce. It's amazing that our poor little building department has kept up with all of this growth."

Loveland's population grew 12.8 percent from 2000 to 2004, more than double that of Fort Collins and Larimer County as a whole, while adjacent Weld County grew more than 20 percent, with 543,000 people living within 20 miles. Surprisingly, neighboring Fort Collins has yet to reap some of the developer's love that has been heaped upon Loveland's northeast corner, though the larger Northern Colorado college town--and other nearby communities--have tried.

Four different developers with land offerings in the region were once in the running for a new lifestyle center similar to Flatirons Crossing in Broomfield. While Fort Collins touted its big population of CSU student shoppers, it couldn't match Centerra's shiny master-planned look, proximity to the highway, and potential for growth.

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In 2004, Memphis-based Poag & McEwen Lifestyle Centers opened its 700,000-square-foot Promenade Shops at Centerra in Loveland, with about half of the project already leased and a healthy collection of big-name anchor tenants included.

"We opened with about 40 tenants, we had another 15 opened within a few months," said Terry McEwen, president of Poag & McEwen. "There was definitely a demand for it, and, overall, sales are exceeding expectations."

While Loveland's Greg George says that Centerra is the biggest development influence in the area, The Larimer County Fairgrounds and Events Center, which opened a few years ago to the north of Centerra on Highway 5, is having its own effect on growth.

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The owners of Thunder Mountain Harley Davidson, a cavernous dealership across from Centerra's 75-acre Motorplex, has attracted the likes of Clear Channel Radio, Hooters and Hilton Hotels to their land holdings between Centerra and the fairgrounds.

In addition, several developers have snatched up land across from the fairgrounds and nearby Wal-Mart Distribution Center, and are hoping that traffic from the new medical center, Promenade Shops and other office parks, spills into their neighborhood.

So far, three separate developments are proposing another 2 million square feet of commercial development divided among retail, office and light industrial offerings, creating a hub of nearly 15 million square feet of revenue-generating real estate that census estimates show will grow Loveland to more than 120,000 people in the next decade, and push the region to a population of nearly 1 million.

1 CENTERRA

LOCATION INTERSTATE 25 AND U.S. 34.

DEVELOPER/OWNER: MCWHINNEY ENTERPRISES

PHONE: (970) 593-6505

ACRES: 4,000+

NUMBER OF HOMES: 5,000 PLANNED

PRICE RANGE: $120,000 UP TO CUSTOM ESTATE HOMES

COMMERCIAL SQUARE FEET: UP TO 10 MILLION

GROUND BREAKING: 1992

BUILD OUT: 2025

The central portion of Centerra--about 640 acres--was deeded to the great, great grandfather of the McWhinney brothers in 1860. Since the death of their father in the mid-1990s, they have parlayed that land into the largest development along 1-25 between Denver's E-470 and the Wyoming border. In addition to the three projects listed below, they are in the process of expanding their existing collection of office properties and recently bought back several hundred acres from McStain Neighborhoods and will continue their residential development.

2 MOTORPLEX AT CENTERRA

LOCATION: NORTHEAST OF 1-25 AND U.S. 34

DEVELOPER/OWNER: MCWHINNEY ENTERPRISES

PHONE: (970) 593-6505

ACRES: 100

GROUND BREAKING: N/A

BUILD OUT: N/A

Up to 14 auto dealerships may call this major intersection home with BMW. General Motors, Subaru, Chevrolet and Chrysler already establishing a presence.

3 PROMENADE SHOPS AT CENTERRA

LOCATION: 1-25 AND U.S. 34 JUST NORTH OF THE OUTLET MALL

DEVELOPER/OWNER: POAG & MCEWEN LIFESTYLE CENTERS (PARTNERED WITH MCWHINNEY ENTERPRISES)

PHONE: (901) 761-7604

ACRES: 75

COMMERCIAL SQUARE FEET: 700,000

GROUND BREAKING: AUGUST 2004

OPENED: OCTOBER 2005

Memphis-based Poag & McEwen partnered with McWhinney Enterprises on this project with McWhinney contributing the land for the project. The center opened with 40 tenants--about half of the available space--and another 15 within a few months. Much like Flatirons Crossing in Broomfield, the Promenade landed Foley's, Dick's Sporting Goods, Metrolux Theaters, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Best Buy Electronics as its major tenants.

4 FOSSIL RIDGE

LOCATION: HIGHWAY 5 ACROSS FROM THE LARIMER COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS AND EVENTS COMPLEX

DEVELOPER/OWNER: WEST WINDSOR DEVELOPMENT LLC

TELEPHONE: (970) 371-6360

ACRES: 151

GROUND BREAKING: N/A

BUILD OUT: N/A

This project is nearing the end of the city's approval process and will focus on light industrial, office, retail and other commercial development. Developers say they are waiting for Highway 5 to connect with Centerra's developments to the south.

5 MEDICAL CENTER OF THE ROCKIES

LOCATION: WEST OF PROMENADE SHOPS, SOUTH OF CLOVERLEAF DOG TRACK

DEVELOPER/OWNER: MCWHINNEY ENTERPRISES/POUDRE VALLEY HEALTH SYSTEM

ACRES: 91

COMMERCIAL SQUARE FEET: 570,000

GROUND BREAKING: APRIL 2004

BUILD OUT: FEBRUARY 2007

The Medical Center of the Rockies is part of the nonprofit Poudre Valley Heath System based in Fort Collins. The new hospital will have 136 beds on five floors and specialize in cardiac and trauma care. It will employ 890 people and generate an estimated $188 million in revenue during its first year of operations.

6 FAIRGROUNDS OFFICE PARK AND EAGLE CROSSING

LOCATION: HIGHWAY 5 AND CROSSROADS BOULEVARD IN WINDSOR

DEVELOPER/OWNER: WATER VALLEY LLC

TELEPHONE: (970) 229-9900

ACRES: 200

COMMERCIAL SQUARE FEET: APPROXIMATELY 1.2 MILLION

GROUND BREAKING: MARCH 2006

BUILD OUT: N/A

Infrastructure construction will begin this month with the first new buildings starting in late spring. Fairgrounds Office Park will focus on office and light industrial development while Eagle Crossing will build more retail, restaurant and some office.

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7 THUNDER MOUNTAIN HARLEY DAVIDSON

LOCATION, CROSSROADS BOULEVARD, ACROSS FROM THE CENTERRA MOTORPLEX

DEVELOPER/OWNER: TODD AND SHELLY ERDMANN

TELEPHONE: (970) 292-0400

The Erdmanns were not available for comment, but City of Loveland planners say that the dealership's owners have attracted several developments to the land surrounding their building, including offices and broadcast studios for Clear Channel Radio, and an outdoor amphitheater; Hooters Restaurant, and a Hilton Hotel.

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WRITTEN BY STEPHEN TITUS
COPYRIGHT 2006 Wiesner Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Who owns Colorado
Author:Titus, Stephen
Publication:ColoradoBiz
Geographic Code:1U8CO
Date:Mar 1, 2006
Words:1272
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