DENVER-Real estate pioneer Allan C. Hackstaff, who helped build the Frederick Ross Co. into the largest full-service commercial real estate firm based in Denver, recently died. Mr. Hackstaff, 77, was the chairman and head of Frederick Ross from about 1970 to 1982.

The firm was founded in 1888 by Frederick Ross, but Mr. Hackstaff’s father, Cyrus, began working for Ross in 1991 and took over the company when Ross died. Allan Hackstaff joined the firm in 1950 and 20 years later he and his brother, Bob, succeeded their father. In 1980, Jack Box led a team of investors that bought the firm and Mr. Hackstaff retired in 1982 as chairman.

Box, who is still president of the privately held firm, where a number of the top brokers now have equity, says Mr. Hackstaff ushered Denver into the modern age of the 1950s.

Box says that Mr. Hackstaff, along with George Gatseos, came up with the idea that every real estate firm in the country now takes for granted–office leasing. In the 1950s, that was still a novel idea, he says.

Instead of leasing brokers, property managers would find tenants for excess space for companies such as banks and insurance companies. Back then, office leasing was more of an afterthought, Box says.

Two of Mr. Hackstaff’s sons, Donald and Rus, head their own commercial real estate development firm, the Turnkey Cos.

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