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Oskar Blues eyes Boulder train depot for new brewpub

Oskar Blues eyes Boulder train depot for new brewpub

Longmont craft brewer considering opening restaurant in historic building

Crews move the historic Boulder train depot 0.9 miles to its current home at 3151 Pearl St. on Oct. 2, 2008. Longmont-based Oskar Blues is considering leasing the space for a new Boulder brewpub. ( CORA KEMP )
Timeline1890:The Union Pacific Depot is built at 14th Street and Canyon Boulevard.1957:The depot is turned into a bus terminal and travel agency.1973:Facing demolition, the depot is moved to the northwest corner of 30th and Pearl streets.2008:The depot, most recently home to the Boulder Jaycees, is moved 0.9 miles to its current home, a 3.28 acre site at 3151 Pearl St. that will be home to the Boulder Junction development.

2011: Boulder signs a 20-year lease with Pedersen Development Co. to develop the depot into an “active commercial use.” Pedersen plans to spend $1 million renovating the aging building.

Boulder’s historic train depot could be reborn as an Oskar Blues brewpub.

The Longmont-based company known for its canned craft beers is considering the 122-year-old stone building — which will serve as a cornerstone for the planned Depot Square at Boulder Junction development — as one potential home for a Boulder brewpub, Dale Katechis, Oskar Blues’ founder, told the Camera on Friday.

“We looked at it; we liked the space, but we haven’t made any decisions yet,” he said. “We’re still reviewing some options and will decide in the next few weeks.”

Katechis declined to identify other Boulder locations under consideration.

Oskar Blues, which operates restaurants in Lyons and Longmont, has looked at several locations within Boulder, Denver, Fort Collins and Longmont to open more brewpubs, Katechis said last month, adding that Oskar Blues most likely would operate more than three restaurants.

The privately held Oskar Blues’ posted production gains of more than 40 percent in 2011 to help accommodate skyrocketing demand. Amidst that rapid growth, Oskar Blues also has expanded its business empire to include a farm, a distillery, a food truck and a mountain bike business.

Last year, the city of Boulder inked a 20-year lease agreement with Boulder-based Pedersen Development Co. to have the depot serve as an “active commercial use.” Pedersen plans to spend more than $1 million to renovate the structure and build it out to have two levels with a rentable area of 5,500 square feet.

The brewpub would be the fifth use for the building that once served as a train depot, a travel agency, a bus stop and a home to the Boulder Jaycees.

The move cost $750,000, about $600,000 of which was footed by Regency Centers, which owns the Whole Foods-anchored Crossroad Commons shopping center.

Joel Thompson 303-877-0060

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February Home Price Index Reports Month-Over-Month Increase

February Home Price Index Reports Month-Over-Month Increase

Excluding distressed sales, month-over-month home prices increased 0.7 percent in February from January, according to CoreLogic®, a provider of information, analytics and business services. The company’s February Home Price Index (HPI) also showed that year-over-year prices declined by 0.8 percent in February 2012 compared to February 2011. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions.

Additionally, the report shows national home prices, including distressed sales, declined on a year-over-year basis by 2.0 percent in February 2012 and by 0.8 percent compared to January 2012, the seventh consecutive monthly decline.

“House prices, based on data through February, continue to decline, but at a decreasing rate. The deceleration in the pace of decline is a first step toward ultimately growing again,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Excluding distressed sales, we already see modest price appreciation month over month in January and February.”

“The continued strength of sales activity and tightening inventories in many markets are early and hopeful signs that prices will continue to stabilize and improve in the coming months. In fact, non-distressed home sale prices, which represent two-thirds of all sales, have appreciated by just over 1.0 percent since the beginning of the year,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic.

Highlights as of February 2012
-Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest appreciation were: West Virginia (+8.6 percent), Michigan (+5.8 percent), Florida (+4.7 percent), Arizona (+4.5 percent) and South Dakota (+4.1 percent).

-Including distressed sales, the five states with the greatest depreciation were: Delaware (-11.2 percent), Connecticut (-7.9 percent), Rhode Island (-7.8 percent), Illinois (-7.1 percent) and Georgia (-6.6 percent).

-Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest appreciation were: South Dakota (+5.9 percent), West Virginia (+5.6 percent), Maine (+4.5 percent), Utah (+3.7 percent) and Montana (+3.6 percent).

-Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the greatest depreciation were: Delaware (-8.7 percent), Connecticut (-4.9 percent), Nevada (-4.6 percent), Vermont (-4.0 percent) and Minnesota (-3.3 percent).

-Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to February 2012) was -34.4 percent. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -24.6 percent.

-The five states with the largest peak-to-current declines including distressed transactions are Nevada (-60.2 percent), Arizona (-49.8 percent), Florida (-48.6 percent), Michigan (-44.0 percent) and California (-43.7 percent).

-Of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population, 67 are showing year-over-year declines in February, nine fewer than in January.

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Joel Thompson 303-877-0060

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Federal Housing Finance Agency Starts the Fannie and Freddie Transformation

Federal Housing Finance Agency Starts the Fannie and Freddie Transformation

This column is brought to you by the NAR Real Estate Services group.

In late February, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) issued a strategic plan for their future actions as conservators of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, also known as the GSEs. The initial reading in Washington was that this was simply FHFA offering a blueprint of what Congress should do with the GSEs. However, a careful reading of the strategic plan clearly indicates that FHFA intends to do most, if not all, of what is in the plan on their existing authority. In other words, under their conservatorship authority, they will begin the transformation of the GSEs while attempting to protect the taxpayers from further losses and help existing borrowers deal with defaults and other problems. There are good, bad and mixed aspects to this plan. Here are some of the highs and lows.

FHFA plans to transform and modernize the securitization platforms of the GSEs. They will combine the two platforms and modernize them into a single structure for securitization. This is potentially a good thing because it is a step toward preserving one of the most important core functions the GSEs have provided—a solid, standardized way of securitizing packages of mortgages for sale. FHFA recognizes the important role the GSEs played and signals that at least FHFA believes that role cannot be abandoned without significant harm to housing finance and the economy.

In the category of not so good, at least for the current housing market, FHFA is going to continue to raise guarantee fees and adjust loan pricing in order to increase revenues, and more importantly, make GSE products more expensive, thus less attractive. Much in the way the Federal Reserve raises interest rates in order to cool down demand, FHFA (and for that matter, FHA) has been increasing premiums, fees and pricing to make their loans less attractive and reduce marketshare. The problem here is that they are hurting consumers who either have to pay more than necessary or cannot afford the mortgage at all. Credit has been too tight already and this will make it tighter and more costly.

In the positive area, FHFA is going to continue to help troubled homeowners through improving the foreclosure avoidance processes, including short sales and loan modifications. As everyone knows, the short sale process still needs improvements, and for those borrowers who cannot afford their homes anymore, it is a superior outcome to a foreclosure. The same is true for the GSEs. They receive far less on average in a foreclosure than they do in a short sale.

Another somewhat positive development is that FHFA plans to be more transparent with regard to what would instigate a loan buyback situation. Loan buybacks have been a principal cause of tightening credit at the lender level. Lenders have added credit overlays above and beyond the rules for the GSEs and FHA simply because they fear every delinquent loan could be put back to them as a buyback. If the rules on buybacks, representations and warranties are clearer, lenders will have less to fear.

As you can see, FHFA’s plan has some good and bad in it. NAR will be working to promote the good parts that will help sustain and promote homeownership. NAR will also seek to prevent or minimize the negative impacts. Perhaps the best part of the FHFA plan is the acknowledgment that there is no quick and easy fix to the housing finance system. Abrupt and not well thought-out changes could lead to catastrophic disruptions.

Ken Trepeta is the director of Real Estate Services for the National Association of Realtors®.

Joel Thompson 303-877-0060

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Best college-town neighborhoods for adults

Gunbarrel, Boulder, Colo.

College: University of Colorado

City population: 97,385

Median sale price: $272,500

Peace and quiet: Last spring, Playboy magazine called the University of Colorado the nation’s top party school. About six miles east of campus, Gunbarrel offers a tranquil buffer from any student chaos, despite the neighborhood’s noisy-sounding name. The name was created many years ago, when the only road connecting Boulder to this once-rural swath was as straight as a gun barrel. The area is safer than 91% of U.S. neighborhoods, says. For every 10,000 Boulder residents, 596 were victims of “known offenses” in 2010, the FBI says.

Launched in 1963 as a 668-home subdivision to accompany a new IBM plant, Gunbarrel now includes single-family houses, condos, a country-club community, huge chunks of open space and a former gravel pit that is now a fish-stocked wildlife reserve called Sawhill Ponds.

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Joel Thompson, RE/MAX Alliance 303-877-0060