December 5-18, 2018 - Page 15 If you scratch the surface of just about any deal, there is a story behind it. The Rebchook Real Estate Corner looks at the what and who that make the Colorado commer- cial real estate industry spin every Tuesday and Thursday online at The people behind the deals are passionate about what they do, whether they focus on offices, apartments, industrial, retail, land or lending. They also are passionate about their clients. Given the cycli- cal nature of commercial real estate, those who prosper in it have plenty of stories to tell. I hope to share them with you. This column includes news stories, in-depth looks at deals, profiles, Q&As and pieces on the latest trends. Contact John with story tips at or 303-945-6865. SUTER MEDIA RELATIONS Media Relations and Publicity for your company (P) 720.771.9090 (E) (W) Become a Bigger Fish Rebchook Real Estate Corner • Firmspace plants coworking flag in Denver • Mayor Design Award winners • Western Asset Services launched • Essex names Williams as president • Denver tops retail square feet decline TOP REBCHOOK STORIES FRO M CREJ.COM Watch for new stories online by John Rebchook Since David O. Larson launched his storied career as a retail broker, the Denver area’s population has almost doubled, rising by 92.56 per- cent. The days of Denver being known as “cow town” are in the rearview mirror since Larson began his retail career in 1982 at Sullivan- Hayes Cos. Amazon was just a river dur- ing the early days of his career. And what a career it has been. He co-founded and sold a full-service commercial real estate firm, EquiVentures Inc. He also served as a vice pres- ident for the national retail service network at Trammell Crow Co. In October 2000, Larson and partners founded Legend Partners. That’s Legend Partners, not Legend Retail Group. Legend Partners, with an office in Salt Lake City, as well as in Denver, specializes in all aspects of retail. Legend Partners has expertise in bro- kerage, investment sales and development. Some of the key clients of Larson, a Denver native, have included household names such as AMC Theaters, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Cost Plus World Market, IKEA, Michaels, Sears Holdings and Sportsman’s Warehouse. His favorite quote comes from Yogi Berra: “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” Last week, Larson took time from his crowded dance card to answer some questions from Rebchook Real Estate Corner. Rebchook: Last month, in the Emerging Trends report released by the Urban Land Institute, a table showed that Denver lost more retail square footage per capita than any other city in the U.S. between 2007 and 2018. Does that sur- prise you? And is it good or bad that Denver’s retail foot- print on a per capita basis has been shrinking? Larson: I don’t think that Denver losing more retail square footage is a surprise, given that Denver has his- torically been over-retailed. Denver has been a great retail market for years, and, as such, every retail concept maximized their store count, relative to the population. A reduction in the retail square footage per capita is a good thing for Denver and the entire country. As a frame of refer- ence, and no surprise, the U.S. has the most retail per capita at 23.5 square feet per person. The next highest is Canada at 16.4 sf per person. Europe has just under 3 sf per person. Rebchook: As someone who has lived through, survived and prospered during the var- ious retail cycles in Denver, what is one piece of advice you would you give to a tenant in this evolving market? Along the same lines, what advice would you give to a landlord, and what advice would you give to a retail developer? Larson: For tenants, my advice is to stay relevant and be vigilant about change, particularly integrating your online platform with your brick-and-mortar stores. The retailers that rest on their his- tory, brand or past success will suddenly find themselves going the same direction as long-standing brands like Sears and Kmart. For landlords, nothing has changed. Do your homework and truly understand the retailer ’s concept, manage- ment, business model and financial health. Don’t just fill a vacancy with the first tenant that can pay the rent, or you may be re-leasing the space in 18 months. For developers, don’t over- leverage the property. The dis- ciplined developers that have kept their loan-to-value ratio to 60 percent or less always seem to survive, even in the most severe downturn. Rebchook: Some people believe there is going to be a brick-and-mortar “retail Armageddon,” largely because of Amazon. Do you think this is true? Even if it isn’t, how can retailers, land- lords and developers best compete against Amazon? Larson: I don’t believe in “retail Armagedon.” People, especially Americans, like to shop. A big part of shopping is the experience. Amazon is without question the biggest/ fastest disrupter that retailing has ever seen. However, every- one thought that Wal-Mart and the other big-box concepts would put every small inde- pendent store out of business. While it did affect many small stores, it gave rise to anoth- er class of retail that offered something more than the box retailers could. I also think it is interesting that Amazon’s initial entry into retailing was just books. At that time, everyone predicted that there would not be a single brick- and-mortar bookstore after five to 10 years. While chains like Borders disappeared, and Barnes & Noble reduced their store count, Barnes continues to survive and even thrive, as they adjusted to the new retail landscape. I think we will see the same in all cat- egories of retail. Amazon is already opening brick-and- mortar concepts. At the same time, Amazon also is trying to figure out how to get prod- ucts delivered within one or two hours. Almost makes you think they need to have mul- tiple facilities strategically located within 2 to 5 miles of one another. That’s a strategy taken from a grocery store’s or retailer’s playbook. Rebchook: What is the big- gest change you have seen in Denver retail since you started in the business 36 years ago? When you first started in 1982, did you ever dream we would have a retail landscape like we have today? Larson: I don’t think anyone dreamed the retail landscape would look like it is today. Larson fields retail questions David O. Larson Please see Rebchook, Page 46 David O. Larson lists space at the Shops of NorthCreek on behalf of its owner, Western Development.