Apple poised for growth in Flatiron Park as property hits market

Apple appears to be the mystery tenant touted in a listing brochure for a portfolio of properties in the Flatiron Park business park in Boulder, perhaps accounting for almost 240,000 square feet of space.

Crescent Real Estate LLC, a commercial property investor and development firm that owns much of Flatiron Park, is putting its assets in the east Boulder campus on the market.

The company is attempting to sell just over 1 million square feet of space spread across 21 buildings, according to a marketing brochure from brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. (NYSE: JLL).

A major selling point referenced repeatedly in marketing materials, which do not include an asking price, is the presence of an “undisclosed tech tenant.” There’s evidence that the mystery tenant is Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL).

Apple has long been rumored to covet space in Flatiron Park, and evidence suggests that the Cupertino, Calif., company could be this mystery tenant, which JLL’s brochure shows as occupying nearly 240,000 square feet in 2300, 2400, 5777 and 5718 Central Ave.

“Apple is growing its engineering team in Boulder and expects to have close to 700 employees at its offices in the region by 2026,” a company spokesperson told BizWest on Thursday.

Apple did not reply to specific questions about its presence in Flatiron Park.

Representatives of Dean Callan & Co., the company in charge of leasing at Flatiron Park, declined to comment, as did JLL. Crescent did not respond to requests for comment.

Here’s what BizWest knows about the link between Apple and Flatiron Park:

  • Apple signage, including the image of the company’s iconic logo, is visible from outside the office space at 5718 Central Ave.
  • According to publicly available records from Boulder’s Planning and Development Services Department, Apple pulled a series of fire permits for the 5718 Central Ave. address over the past year and a half.
  • The JLL brochure describes the undisclosed tenant as having an AA+ credit rating. Standards & Poor’s reaffirmed Apple’s AA+ rating in 2017.
  • Marketing materials say that the tenant has a market cap of $2.54 trillion. Apple’s market cap, which fluctuates with the stock market, was about $2.43 trillion on Thursday —  close to the figure cited in the JLL brochure. The only other company in that stratosphere is Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT).
  • The brochure refers to Boulder as one the tenant’s “targeted growth markets.” This is certainly the case for Apple, which went public in April with its plan to expand its Boulder workforce to 700 as part of a nationwide investment of $430 billion in U.S. projects and addition of 20,000 new jobs nationwide over the next five years.
  • JLL’s marketing materials use a quote from Apple’s vice president of worldwide real estate and facilities Kristina Raspe published in April by BizWest. Raspe’s job title is the only direct reference to Apple in the brochure.
  • Attorney Morgan Bottner, whose LinkedIn profile identifies him as a “Principal Counsel & Senior Manager at Apple,” used the 5718 Central Ave. address to register with the Colorado Supreme Court Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel. That registry also lists Apple as the firm for which he works.
  • According to the JLL brochure, Crescent is “redeveloping a mission-critical facility at 2300 & 2400 Central Avenue” for the mystery tenant. The building at 2300 Central is indeed being redeveloped, and Crescent is also redeveloping a 14-acre parcel at 2400 and 2450 Central Ave. into a combined structure at 2400 Central Ave. that totals about 144,500 square feet.

Apple has a habit of imbuing its Boulder County operations with an air of mystery.

In 2018, the tech giant quietly absorbed Longmont-based Akonia Holographics, a startup that produces lenses for AR glasses.

Few details were available in August 2018 when Reuters first reported the Akonia acquisition. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, and company representatives, including CEO and co-founder Ken Anderson, did not grant interviews.

Likewise, Apple wasn’t particularly forthcoming about the deal, providing Reuters a statement that read: “Apple buys smaller companies from time to time, and we generally don’t discuss our purpose or plans.”

In the time since the acquisition, Akonia has gone silent.

A source speculated after the acquisition that Akonia is working to help develop augmented-reality glasses.

If the mystery Flatiron Park tenant is Apple — which is confirmed to have about 40,000 square feet of office space at 5360 Sterling Drive — it is by no means the only big tech company with a growing presence in Boulder.

Amazon set up shop downtown at 1900 15th St. in 2018. Those offices were leased to house advertising-focused engineers.

About a year ago, Google expanded its Boulder operation with additional offices and employees at its 3333 Walnut St. facility, leasing the entirety of the nearly 160,000-square-foot facility.

The company followed that expansion up with the purchase of The Reve, a new mixed-use development in central Boulder. Google’s footprint at The Reve totals about 125,000 square feet.

The company also has completed the third building at its 300,000-square-foot main campus at 2930 Pearl St. That campus was designed to house 1,500 employees.

Social network Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) inked a new lease last November for 65,000 square feet in the S’Park neighborhood in central Boulder.

That added to Twitter’s 30,000-square-foot lease in the Wencel Building south of the Pearl Street Mall, where it houses an app development team.

© 2021 BizWest Media LLC

Apple poised for growth in Flatiron Park as property hits market