Colorado Springs real estate firm pays $33 million for Denver apartment complex

Colorado Springs real estate firm Griffis/Blessing Inc., which specializes in the acquisition and management of apartment properties in Colorado, has made another major investment in Denver’s hot multi-family market.

The company paid $33.4 million Tuesday to purchase the 252-unit Glenbrook apartments on Denver’s southeast side.

The acquisition fits Griffis/Blessing’s longtime strategy of buying and improving undervalued apartment properties, increasing rents and pumping up property values. The company then usually sells the property in five to seven years.

"It’s kind of our typical deal," said Gary Winegar, the company’s investment services president. "It’s very similar to what our usual business plan is, and that is going in and taking a property to another level."

The Glenbrook apartments, west of Parker Road and Havana Street, were built in 1985 and still owned by its original developer. However, the owners made few significant improvements and didn’t take advantage of rent increases they could realize by upgrading the property, Winegar said.

Griffis/Blessing plans to spend upward of $5 million to add washers and dryers to apartments, upgrade unit interiors and building corridors and update the clubhouse, fitness center, pool and other amenities, among other improvements.

Griffis/Blessing now owns six apartment properties in Denver with about 1,500 units, Winegar said. The company expects to acquire two more before year’s end, he said.

Denver is appealing because of its strong economy, job growth and influx of employers, Winegar said. At the same time, the city attracts mobile-minded millennials, who enjoy its quality of life and apartment living, he said.

Single-family housing costs also are on the rise in Denver, which prompts many people to move into apartments, Winegar added.

"With that, you can create more renters," he said. "Younger people and others, they want to be mobile and don’t want to be tied to a house."

Griffis/Blessing likes to acquire suburban-like apartments in Denver, which some renters prefer over newer and pricier downtown properties, Winegar said. Rents in Denver have been rising by 9 percent to 10 percent a year, he said. While those increases probably will slow, Griffis/Blessing still expects increases of 3 percent to 5 percent a year – making the city ripe for additional investments, Winegar said.

In addition to buying properties, Griffis/Blessing partnered with Niebur Development of Colorado Springs to build a 100-unit apartment project near Denver’s Lincoln Station.

Griffis/Blessing also currently owns eight properties in the Springs with about 1,700 units.

Besides acquisitions, Griffis/Blessing manages about 9,000 apartments and more than 4 million square feet of commercial space, describing itself as the largest multi-family and commercial property manager in southern Colorado.

Griffis/Blessing was founded in 1985 by Colorado College students Buck Blessing and Ian Griffis, who grew the company by acquiring apartments, upgrading them and selling them. Over the years, they created a vast network of investors for their deals – a strategy that continues today. Blessing remains CEO; Griffis left the company and launched his own firm in 1997.

Contact Rich Laden: 636-0228

Twitter: @richladen

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