Is Lowe’s coming to Gypsum? |

Is Lowe’s coming to Gypsum?

GYPSUM ” No real estate deal is done until the last contracts are signed, but Gypsum may be in line to get a Lowe’s home improvement store.

Richard Kabat, principal partner of Next Realty, said his company has a “letter of intent” with Lowe’s to build a store at the Tower Center property in Gypsum.

“This is an expression of good faith they want to build,” Kabat said. But, he added, the deal has yet to earn final approval from Lowe’s real estate division.

If the deal does close, Lowe’s will be the first signed tenant at Tower Center, which is just east of the Stratton Flats residential project along U.S. Highway 6 east of Eagle Valley High School.

If Lowe’s ” which didn’t return calls asking for comment ” does decide to build in Gypsum, how will the national economy affect its timing?

Dr. Glenn Mueller, a professor at the Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management at the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business, said big retailers often have schedules on their own business cycles, not necessarily the national economy.

“Retailers look at population growth, and where they can make sales,” Mueller said.

The Vail Valley is one of those places, he said. There’s a high-end market here, of course, as well as a local need for goods and services, he said.

Besides, there’s a Home Depot in Avon, and Lowe’s generally wants to be in markets where its biggest competitor is doing business.

Lowe’s, though, targets a slightly different customer than Home Depot, Mueller said.

“Home Depot focuses on contractors, while Lowe’s focuses more on home owners,” he said. “They sell a slightly higher grade of plumbing, draperies and other items.”

If Lowe’s does sign a deal at Tower Center, both Kabat and Mueller said it could start bringing more retailers to the property.

Kabat said his company is negotiating with other companies, “but we’ve got to get the first tenant signed.”

That first tenant can also kick-start the financing for a project, Mueller said. A 10-year lease with a big retailer allows a developer to lock in financing for a project, since the retailer is essentially making the payments for construction.

“You’re in a unique place with good demand, employment and demand for products,” Mueller said.

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or

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