LOUISVILLE — One of the Colorado Technology Center’s oldest buildings continues to be one of its more novel, as well.
Known as almost a gateway to the CTC, 740 S. Pierce was also home to Kryptonics, known throughout the nation, and many other parts of the globe, as the maker of skateboard and roller blade wheels. Kryptonics founder Chuck Demarest actually owned the building for decades, as the businesses changed and evolved.
Kryptonics originally manufactured polyurethane products for mining and computers, but the company’s Star*Trac line of wheels was a skateboard breakthrough in the 1970s, and it went on to sponsor top pro skateboarders. In 1997, Kryptonics merged with Bravo Sports, which still uses the company name as a brand.
Part of Kryptonics was spun off int Kryptane Systems LLC, now a division of Argonics Inc, which remained at the CTC site, and Demarest also founded Aragon Elastomers, which also stayed in his building. Demarest retired from his consultancy with the latter company last year, putting the building into play, as well.
“We bought this building from a gentleman who didn’t spend a lot of time on it the last five to 10 years. As a practice, we look for buildings with problems or deferred maintenance issues,” said Andrew Freeman, managing broker of Freeman Myre Inc. Partnering with Michael Yokell, the new owners went to work on the new building almost immediately, including providing Kryptane Systems with solar power.
“One of the main tenants was actually looking at moving out,” Freeman said. “There was a lot of work to do to really turn this building around, but we were able to get it at a price that allowed us to do that.”
Essentially, the partners put in about a $1 million in total, replacing the roof, parking lot, landscaping and irrigation, as well as most of the HVAC units. On the second floor, which is being leased as office space, there are also new windows to make use of the great views of the Front Range, but definitely the icing on the cake was the solar installation.
The southern third of the building — above Kryptane Systems — now holds 294 solar panels rated at 275 watts each, said Bryan Conner, the vice president of operations for Cascade Solar USA, which was contracted for the project. The total installation produces 89.85 kilowatts of instantaneous power, over the space of a year the system will produce 109,400 kilowatt hours and will feed back into the grid if all the solar power is not being used.
Conner said in addition to adding the solar, Kryptane also did a fairly complete lighting overhaul, together the savings from the lighting and addition of the solar power will provide about 30 percent of the company’s total electric power.
Because Kryptane does not own the building, the owner had to go through a lot of hoops and hassles working the increased expense into the lease arrangement, while still making sure the project qualified for Xcel rebates and tax benefits. A major reason the project went through was a $20,000 grant from Boulder County’s Partners for a Clean Environment (PACE) program.
But the driving force behind the solar project was building owner Michael Yokell, said Thomas “Toby” Peterson, general manager of the Kryptane Systems Division.
“He put in a lot of work to put this whole thing together,” Peterson said. “It really isn’t going to cost us anything.”
Peterson said his company will see a gradual increase in savings from the solar system, including savings in what may prove to be escalating power costs.
“Michael made it very easy for there was really no skin off our nose — no money out of pocket,” he said. “For us, it was pretty transparent. We really didn’t have much down time — just little bit of downtime one day, and we were able to schedule that easily. We are great supporter of Michael Yokell’s efforts to go green.”
Peterson said his company had looked at other available leases, but today they are pretty happy they stayed put.
“Our rent went up a fair amount, but not outside local averages, and they invested a lot in this building,” he said.
Marci Seidel, vice president of Aragon Division, now owned by the Hanson Group LLC, said her company is pleased they stayed on, as well. The company employs 70 people here, mostly in manufacturing polyurethane parts, including the holds for indoor climbing walls.
“They’ve been plugging away at it since they bought the building,” Seidel said about the new building owners. While the building had become known as a bit of an eyesore, she said that is hardly the case anymore.
“They did a great job with the landscaping — really a nice job overall,” she said.
Freeman said the solar was just the final piece of the puzzle, though it was one that required the new owners to plunk down a check for about $230,000. All together, however, the improvements to the building have helped it become about 85 percent leased.
Bridge Diagnostics Inc. plans to relocate to the building from Boulder in the spring of 2017, taking more than 11,000 square feet.
“The solar part of it was probably the most difficult, and it would not have happened without everyone cooperating,” Freeman said.