Case Studies

L.C. Fulenwider Inc.

Roots in the Rockies — a history of firsts and new opportunities in Denver’s development market

Few developers and real estate moguls have a history of firsts quite like L.C. Fulenwider Inc. Spanning four generations, the family-owned company has made its name known as a real estate pioneer in the Mile High City. From the heart of downtown Denver’s business district to the airport, Fulenwider has been a fixture in the city’s real estate, property management and development market for more than a century.

Lloyd Caleb “L.C.” Fulenwider Sr. left Missouri in the late 1800s. He arrived in Denver during a time of major change as the city was transforming from frontier community to major metropolis. With a booming population, the real estate market was on fire, making Denver an ideal fit for L.C. Fulenwider’s startup company, Globe Investment.

In the beginning, the young company focused on buying and selling farm and ranch properties. In 1907, L.C. Fulenwider bought an automobile and was one of the first to ride around the streets of Denver. While some were attracted to the prospect of catching a ride in the new automobile, maybe more than doing business, the high-tech marketing worked for L.C. Fulenwider and caught the attention of many in the real estate industry.

Shaping the early real estate industry

In the early 1920s, L.C. Fulenwider brought together an alliance of ethical real estate brokers — something that was few and far between during the time period. The brokers came together to form the Denver Real Estate Exchange, the precursor to today’s Denver Board of Realtors. L.C. Fulenwider worked with the state Legislature to develop strict but fair regulations for the industry, many of which still stand today. In 1930 the company changed its name from Globe Investment to L.C. Fulenwider Inc.

“My grandfather was noted by his peers as a leader in the industry,” says Cal Fulenwider III, now president of Fulenwider. “Ethics and integrity were critical to him and continue to be to our company –that’s what we’re all about.”

L.C. Fulenwider Inc.

In the early 1900s, L.C. Fulenwider began to compile acres upon acres of wheat farmland — which eventually amounted to more than 40,000 acres north of Denver. The area was known as Box Elder Farms and 60 years later the land became the site of the Denver International Airport (DIA). “He assembled this parcel over decades; back when the Wright Brothers weren’t even off the ground,” laughs Cal. “40 percent of that land mass is what the DIA sits on today.”

In the years following World War II, L.C. Fulenwider’s son, L.C. Fulenwider Jr. changed the company from its original farm and ranch focus to commercial residential brokerage, insurance and property management as the city began to attract more young families and businesses. Fulenwider was influential in the development of many buildings and properties that changed the face of the city as one of the most prominent real estate developers in Denver. The company established Denver’s first condominium community and first condominium high-rise facility. From here, Fulenwider branched out and began working on hotels, shopping centers and Mile High Industrial — Denver’s first industrial business park. In the early 1970s, Fulenwider teamed up with the Erie County Investment Co. to develop Copper Mountain Ski area which it subsequently sold in the early 1980s.

“We downsized a bit in the ‘80s when there was a severe real estate market depression,” says Cal. “We’ve learned many lessons throughout our history and how to stay nimble. We’ve held on to a small, but close team of 10 employees and many have been with us through it all.”

Born and raised in the business, Cal assumed the helm in the mid-‘80s, acting on a strong sense of duty to uphold the family’s legacy. “I wanted to keep the tradition going, but we’ve changed the business completely,” he explains. “In my father’s era we did primarily commercial and residential property management and brokerage. Today we’re still in real estate, but we’re a development firm.”

First-class business opportunities just outside of DIA

Nearly 112 years later, Fulenwider continues to shape the future of the Denver real estate market. Just five minutes outside of DIA — the site that L.C. Fulenwider originally purchased — is one of Fulenwider’s showcase projects: the Denver International Business Center (DIBC), a mixed-use development.

Located midway between the master-planned communities of Reunion and Green Valley Ranch, DIBC is the regional headquarters for Frontier Airlines and FlightSafety International’s new regional jet and helicopter training facility. As one of the world’s premier professional aviation training companies and suppliers of flight simulators, visual systems and displays to commercial, government and military organizations, FlightSafety, a Berkshire Hathaway Co., offers more than a million hours of training each year to pilots and other aviation professionals.

“This is a huge addition to the DIBC and it underscores DIA’s importance to our national and international transportation system and to Colorado’s economy,” says Cal. “This new facility will be a major employer in the region.”

“DIA continues to evolve into a thriving global hub for businesses. The addition of this new aviation partner is a further step toward realizing this vision,” says Kim Day, DIA CEO. “We look forward to welcoming FlightSafety International to the neighborhood.”

With the proximity to DIA, DIBC is a highly sought-after location. DIBC includes a hotel and conference center designed to accommodate more than 4,000 hotel rooms and 3 million square feet of mixed-use retail areas, corporate campus sites ranging from five to 75-plus acres, land available for sale, build-to-suit or joint-venture developments and retail development sites.

A Smart Stop at Pena Station Next

A true master developer, Fulenwider prides itself on developments that offer performance and long-lasting quality, contributing to the health and long-term prosperity of Colorado. The company has spearheaded the recently opened Pena Station Next Project, strategically located on the commuter rail line connecting DIA to Denver Union Station.

The master-planned community focuses on sustainable office, retail, health wellness and multifamily properties. “Pena Station Next is really the North American showpiece community for active lifestyles, healthy communities and overall sustainable development,” explains Cal.

With sweeping views of the Rocky Mountains, Pena Station Next is a true transit-oriented development where employees can live, work, play and live a healthy, actively lifestyle. In partnership with Fulenwider, Panasonic Enterprise Solutions has chosen the project as the prime location for its new North American Solutions Headquarters, where the company will house its line of Eco Solutions, including large-scale solar systems with battery storage and testing units.

Fulenwider is working with Panasonic to create the sustainable Smart Stop town, similar to the one the company first developed in Fujisawa, Japan. Here Panasonic converted an old factory into a sustainable, healthy-living community for 4,000 residents.

“This is a major public-private partnership,” says Cal. “The commuter rail line will be open to the public by April 2016 and this extends from Union Station in downtown Denver to the airport. Pena Station Next is the front door to the airport, which is huge because soon DIA will be the largest airport in the world, doubling in size in the next 30 to 40 years; this is the beauty of development around DIA.”

This project is part of Fulenwider’s push to focus on the future of development, blending its history of innovation with modern urban living that attracts Denver’s young and highly educated workforce, as well as national and international corporations seeking a convenient location next to DIA.

Life at Reunion

Also well within proximity to DIA is Reunion, a 3,240-acre master-planned community owned by Fulenwider and master developer, Shea Homes. The community at Reunion surrounds the Buffalo Run Golf Course and also includes an array of commercial properties. Reunion offers the full gamut in housing, from entry-level homes to the executive level — prices range from $250,000 to $1.5 million.

The development also includes the Landmark Academy Charter School, 70-plus acres of parks with a 25,000-square-foot recreation center complete with a swimming pool, miles of trails and lakes. Reunion offers more than 80 acres of open spaces, from wooded trails to landscaped areas and 40 acres of retail centers, including a 124,000-square-foot supermarket, restaurant and medical office space.

Throughout its history Fulenwider has strived to deliver more value in all projects. “We do a lot to improve the community we’ve called home for more than a century,” says Cal. “We’re involved in land preservation, Children’s Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital, St. John’s Cathedral, Salvation Army and others. When you’ve been here as long as we have, we feel as though it’s our responsibility.”

In January 2016 the Fulenwider family was named to the Colorado Business Hall of Fame at an awards dinner hosting more than 1,100 people. “This is a huge honor and symbolizes our deep roots in Denver,” says Cal.

Since the beginning, L.C. Fulenwider Inc. has been digging deep in Denver, connecting innovative ideas within Colorado’s real estate and development sector, cultivating strong communities and attracting new businesses that bolster the local economy.

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