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LONE TREE, CO-Minneapolis-based United Properties recently opened in the Denver suburb of Lone Tree along the southeast suburban corridor. The move coincides with its $21-million purchase of the 295,000-sf Shops at the Bluffs shopping center from American Capital Group.

Frank Dutke, senior vice president of investments at United, says it created a new base in the Denver area because of the opportunities for investments and developments. United Properties plans to invest another $20 million to redevelop the Shops at the Bluffs, located at the northwest corner of Austin Bluffs Parkway and Academy Boulevard in Colorado Springs.

United Properties’ center will be renamed the Marketplace at Austin Bluffs. Current anchor tenants, King Soopers, Hancock Fabrics and 24 Hour Fitness are expected to remain in the project during a phased redevelopment that will convert the enclosed mall into an open-air center. Preliminary development plans incorporate some of the center’s existing architecture and core elements. Work is scheduled to begin in the late spring and expected to be complete in spring 2007.

United Properties also has owned the 22,000-sf shopping center in Highlands Ranch, near its Lone Tree office, since 1987. “With Shops at the Bluffs and Plaza at Highlands Ranch in our portfolio, the time was right to open our first Denver-area office,” says Dutke. “We know the market well based on our holdings in Denver and Colorado Springs and the area offers strong prospects for growth. While our first two properties are in retail, the Denver office will consider opportunities in other property sectors, bringing to bear the full scope of the company’s expertise.”

Kevin Kelley, who has more than two decades of experience in commercial real estate market, is the new vice president and regional manager of the office in Lone Tree. Kelley says its recent Colorado Springs’ purchase is a value-added deal.

“The property has experienced significant declines over the past few years, but its location on a major thoroughfare and proximity to mature residential neighborhoods and the planned expansion of the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, make it very attractive for redevelopment,” Kelley says. “We anticipate a variety of new retail, service and restaurant tenants to help reinvigorate this property for the benefit of the community.”

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