As Seen In The Colorado Real Estate Journal – May 18-31, 2016

Shown is Lafayette Corporate Campus.

In the fall of 2000, about 300 Denver area commercial real estate brokers gathered in a field before boarding a five-seat helicopter, to provide them with an aerial view of what today is the 293,394-square-foot Lafayette Corporate Campus.

“Once you’re up in the air, it’s a no-brainer,” Bruce Etkin, principal of Etkin Johnson, the developer of the 77-acre center, said at the time of the appeal of the industrial and flex-space campus.

The next year, the first building in the center off U.S. 287, just east of U.S. 36 opened.

Etkin Johnson recently refinanced the campus.

Jeff Riggs, a principal at Essex Financial Group, missed that helicopter ride.

However, his relationship with Etkin Johnson predates that helicopter tour. By a lot.

“We have done business with Etkin Johnson for over 30 years,” Riggs said.

Most recently, Riggs and Sam Makings, an analyst at Essex, arranged a $24 million loan on behalf of Etkin Johnson for the Lafayette Corporate Campus.

The nonrecourse loan was made by a Midwestern life insurance company.

The 15-year loan, amortized over 30 years, includes two years of interest only.

“This financing achieves our goal of utilizing conservative leverage at favorable terms for an asset we plan to hold long-term,” said Derek Conn, director of finance for Etkin Johnson. “We think this debt will look very good for many years to come.”

There were a number of lenders willing to make the loan, given the location of the Lafayette Corporate Campus, the strength and history of Etkin Johnson, and the quality of the tenants at the campus, which include GE Health Care and Epsilon, according to Riggs.

“All were interested, but Etkin wanted a 15-year loan term and that eliminated most banks and CMBS sources,” Riggs said.

The lender, like Riggs, has a relationship with Etkin Johnson.

“The winning lender was able to forgo any structure provisions related to tenant rollover occurring over the first three years of the loan,” Riggs said.

“They had done loans for Etkin Johnson in the past and relied upon their experience and integrity,” Riggs said.

During the past three decades, Essex has financed several projects for Etkin Johnson.

The latest was not its biggest by a longshot.

In the past, Essex had financed a 20-building, 2 million-sf portfolio of industrial properties for Etkin Johnson.

“That was a $85 million credit facility with a major life company, TIAA,” Riggs said.