Bullish Scharf speaking at CREJ conference

The upcoming Outlook conference will examine downtown, RiNo and the DIA area.

Richard W. Scharf Jr., as president and CEO of Visit Denver, the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, is at the helm of a nonprofit sales and marketing arm that annually produces more than $500 million of direct economic growth to the Denver metro area.

During the past 26 years with the bureau, Scharf has had a bird’s-eye view of every aspect of every possible economic cycle.

“What I have seen over the years is that Denver does best when the three mixes doing well – the business traveler, your Monday through Thursday visitor; the leisure travelers who book hotel rooms during the weekends; and group business,” the hotel guru told Rebchook Real Estate Corner on Tuesday.

Firing on all cylinders

“I think we are kind of hitting on all cylinders right now,” Scharf said.

Scharf will provide his insights as one of the panelists addressing the outlook for downtown Denver at the upcoming 2019 Denver Commercial Real Estate Update & Outlook conference.


Richard Scharf.

The conference, to be held from noon until 4:45 p.m. Thursday, March 14, is expected to draw more than 350.

The conference is produced by the Colorado Real Estate Journal. It will be held immediately after the Multifamily Development & Investment conference, also produced by CREJ.

The Outlook conference’s Title Partner is FirstBank. Adam Sands, market president – Cherry Creek, FirstBank, will be one of the keynote speakers at the conference.

The hotel market, in Denver or elsewhere, does not perform in a vacuum.

Hotels linked to offices, jobs, DIA

“The hotel market is very tied to the office market and what is happening as far as economic development and job growth,” Scharf said.

“I would say it is a food chain,” he said.

The hospitality market in Denver, like the overall economy, also has benefitted from 11 added international flights at Denver International Airport, he said. The increased flights draw more business travelers and leisure travelers.

“Denver is now a global destination” for tourists, he noted.

And even with the additional 1,501 hotel rooms at the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center in Aurora, demand has been strong enough to absorb the increase in supply, he said.


Hotel demand is strong enough for the market to absorb the extra rooms at the Gaylord, according to Richard Scharf.

“Overall, I am very bullish,” Scharf said.

John Markovich, executive vice president at FirstBank, will moderate the downtown panel.

Downtown panel

Showing the wide range of the speakers and topics at the Outlook Conference at the Hyatt Regency Aurora-Denver Conference Center, the Downtown Denver Update panel, in addition to Scharf, will include:

  • Doug Wulf – Executive Managing Director, Cushman & Wakefield;
  • Eric L. Tupler – Senior Managing Director, Denver Office, HFF Inc.;
  • Roger Pecsok – Development Director/ Executive Committee Member, Continuum;
  • David Haltom – Vice President, Patrinely Group LLC; and
  • Randy Thelen – Vice President of Economic Development, Downtown Denver Partnership.

The Downtown Denver panel will be followed by a RiNo Update.

RiNo Panel

Members of the RiNo panel include:

  • Chris Crawford – Development Director, Hines;
  • Kyle Zeppelin – Co-President, Zeppelin Development;
  • Bill Parkhill – Partner, Tributary Real Estate;
  • James Roupp – Executive Vice President, JLL; and
  • Blair E. Lichtenfels – Shareholder, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP.

The RiNo panel will be moderated by Peter Merrion – Senior Director, HFF.

Brad Buchanan to speak

Next up, Matt Sanman, the public information coordinator for Kiewit Infrastructure Co., will provide an update on the Interstate 70 reconstruction project. Sanman will be followed by Brad Buchanan, CEO of the National Western Center Authority. Buchanan will provide an update on the National Western Center area and the Triangle request for proposals.

Buchanan’s update will be followed another panel: DIA Area Update: Denver’s Next Commercial Development Frontier panel.

DIA panel

Panel members will include:

  • Darryl Jones – Chief Real Estate Officer, Denver International Airport;
  • Ferd Belz – President, LC Fulenwider;
  • Allen H. Crosswell – Managing Partner, NewQuest Crosswell/The Aurora Highlands; and
  • Andrew R. Klein – Principal, Westside Investment Partners.

The DIA panel be moderated by Mike Kboudi – Managing Director, Cushman & Wakefield.

J.J. Ament, CEO of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., will present the closing keynote address.

If you scratch the surface of just about any deal, there is a story behind it. The Rebchook Real Estate Corner looks at the what and who that make the Colorado commercial real estate industry spin every Tuesday and Thursday online at CREJ.com. The people behind the deals are passionate about what they do, whether they focus on offices, apartments, industrial, retail, land or lending. They also are passionate about their clients. Given the cyclical nature of commercial real estate, those who prosper in it have plenty of stories to tell. I hope to share them with you. 

This column includes news stories, in-depth looks at deals, profiles, Q&As and pieces on the latest trends. Contact John with story tips at JRCHOOK@gmail.com or 303-945-6865.

John Rebchook has been taking the pulse of the Denver-area and Colorado commercial real estate world for almost 35 years. He joined the editorial staff of CREJ in 2011. Prior to that, he was the Real Estate Editor of the Rocky Mountain News from 1983 until it closed in 2009.