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Koelbel buys biggest real estate company in Winter Park

Koelbel and Co.  has expanded its mountain real estate footprint by buying Winter Park-based Coldwell Banker Mountain Properties.

“Real estate buyer’s preferences have changed,” said Walter “Buz” Koelbel Jr., said in a prepared statement. Koelbel is president of his namesake company, which among other things, is the developer of the Rendezvous development in Grand County.

“As a company we are listening to the marketplace and redesigning how we develop resort homes added Koebel. “The acquisition of CBMP is a strategic initiative to position Koelbel and Co. for the future.”

In a phone interview this morning, as he was driving to Winter Park, Koelbel told me that the purchase makes sense in light of the $1 billion Rendezvous development in Grand County. He also said the downturn in the market provides him an opportunity to buy the company that he might not have in a robust economy.

“Obviously, we have got a huge commitment up in Grand County and Winter Park already,” Koelbel said. “We still think that Grand County has a great future, even though there may be some rough riding ahead. But given its proximity to Denver, its great amenities and everything else, now was a great time to increase our investment in the area. We felt we should take advantage of this down market. It’s a pretty fortuitous purchase that had not been available in a better market.”

I asked him to elaborate. Did he mean that the Coldwell Banker office would not have been for sale in a better market, or that it would have been too expensive to buy if conditions were better?

“Probably it would not have been for sale and if it was, it might have been too expensive,” Koelbel said. “In real estate today, there is a whole new paradigm and you have to be strategic. We think this was a really good investment, even though it might take a couple of years for it to pay off.”

The purchase price was not released.

I also asked Koebel if there is an inherent conflict, because as a developer, he would like to sell more units in Rendezvous, but brokers need to show clients the entire market.

“That’s an excellent question,” Koelbel replied. “I think you always have to be concerned about potential or perceived conflicts. But the reality is, is that people who are shopping for homes in the market want to look at everything that is available. Everybody wants to get the best value in terms of price and location. The great thing is that the Coldwell Banker brokers really have a great understanding of the market.”

Chris Mygatt, President of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, the largest brokerage in Colorado, noted that the purchase underscores a relationship between Winter Park and Denver that dates from the City of Denver’s ownership and involvement in the ski area. CB Residential Brokerage, not connected to CBMP, currently has a cooperative relationship with Koelbel and Co. in new home marketing.

“It gives us a chance to bring more value to our customers, by expanding our marketing reach to the Grand County market,” Mygatt said. “The relationship provides the ability to showcase mountain properties listed by CBMP through avenues to our 1,200 Denver area agents.”

“This move demonstrates a great deal of confidence in the future of Winter Park and the Fraser Valley, by Winter Park’s preeminent developer,” said Dennis R. Saffell, Broker-Owner of Coldwell Banker Mountain Properties, in announcing the acquisition to his team of agents.

CBMP, founded in 1981, has continually been the major market share holder of active listings in Grand County in recent years.

Currently, CBMP has 437 active listings totaling $227 million representing a 25 percent market share of the Grand County MLS. For the past five years, CBMP has averaged 25 percent of sales volume for Grand County, at times capturing as much as 32 percent of market sales.

Koelbel and Co., with a 57-year history of residential and commercial development in metropolitan Denver, is one of the largest builder/developers in Winter Park with over $108 million in lot and home sales. Rendezvous recently expanded by adding an additional 688-acres acquisition in the town of Winter Park, which is planned for an eventual build-out of 2,000 homes, with a projected value exceeding $1 billion.

Koelbel’s family involvement in the valley dates back to the early 1900s.

His grandfather, Carl Norgren, first experienced the wonders of the area working as a logger in the Valley. In the late 1930s, Carl sent his daughter, Gene, Buz’s mother, to camp at Byers Peak Ranch, which he later purchased with friend, Axel Nielsen, two miles west of present-day Rendezvous for family gatherings. The Ranch became famous as the summer White House for visiting President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“The spectacular beauty and abundance of recreational offerings that made Winter Park and the Fraser Valley a popular destination for Denver families 50 years ago will be even more important in the future,” Koelbel said. “And with the revitalized base mountain area, a beautiful new facility for summer concerts, 600 miles of trails, world-class golf courses, spectacular mountain lakes for fishing and boating, and a new state of the art rec center, this area has become known not only as a ‘Winter’ park, but a year-round playground.”

Koelbel noted that Winter Park is only 90 minutes from Denver and DIA.

“In an era where time is precious, people are concerned with finding quality resorts that represent a better dollar value and that involve less drive time in return for the experience, we consider this a prime location for recreation and investment,” Koelbel said.

The market agrees. Fourteen homes were sold at Rendezvous in July and August.”We have five different price points, but most of the ones that sold were between the $200,000s and $400,000s,” Koelbel told me. “We substantially reduced the prices. We would have liked to have sold them for a bit more, but we decided we needed to be the price leader in the area. It shows that at the right price, you can still sell homes . We think the buyers got excellent deals.”

For more information on available properties at Rendezvous and in Grand County, visit the Rendezvous Real Estate Discovery Center on Highway 40 in Fraser or the downtown CBMP Winter Park office. Rendezvous’ resort properties, including cabins and townhomes offered by Colonnade Resort Communities, will be marketed by CBMP agents, as will its custom home sites. Call 970-726-8200 or visit RendezvousColorado.com

Coldwell Banker Mountain Properties is at 78902 U.S. Hwy 40 in Winter Park and can be reached at 970-726-5500 or on the web at CBMP.com.

Koelbel and Co. has a big presence in Grand County with Rendezvous.

Homes such as these have proven to be popular among Front Range buyers.

Homes such as these in Rendezvous have proven to be popular among Front Range buyers.