In the late 1940s, Jim Austin’s father bought the Square One retail center in a bar through a $100 handshake deal.
“My dad met someone who was clearly in the mood to sell, I’m guessing, at the old Cosmopolitan Hotel bar,” Austin said. “That was the down payment, but I’m sure there was more money involved.”
“Family legend has it that it was bought back when Colorado Boulevard was a two-lane dirt road,” he said.
Square One, located at the corner of Colorado Boulevard and Mississippi Avenue in Glendale, was home to the first McDonald’s in Colorado, which opened in 1962 and was also the first McDonald’s to have indoor seating. Austin still has a letter to his father from Ray Kroc, who bought the business in 1961 and is credited with building the fast food chain it is today.
When his father James died in 1976, Jim and his older sisters Patricia and Michelle took over Square One.
“But about 20 years ago we set a target date and agreed that when we all reach a certain age, we need to reevaluate our choices so that we can use our sunset years. Enjoy,” Austin said.
Last week, Jim, 62, Patricia, 65, and Michelle, 70, sold the retail center after nearly 70 years to Denver-based Kentro Group, Austin, and Kentro Group co-founder Jimmy Balafass for $13.1 million.
The 24,539-square-foot retail center, spread over 2.3 acres, is currently home to 12 businesses, including chains such as Qdoba, Jimmy Johns, Pokecity and Smashburger.
Jimmy and George Balafas wrote in an email, “The Kentro Group considers Square One Center a core plus location sitting on Colorado Boulevard, one of the metro area’s busiest streets, surrounded by many of Denver’s great neighborhoods ” “We plan to keep the property running with our existing great roster of tenants and are thrilled to add this property to our portfolio.”
Broker Peter Pavlakis, along with Legend Partners, represented the Austin family in the deal.
The Kentro Group has its Trader Joe’s-anchored Colorado Plaza in Hale and the former Colorado Department of Transportation headquarters in Virginia Village, where it plans to manufacture a mix of uses.