Mortenson implicated in Denver bidding probe

Officials are restarting bidding for a $223 million expansion to the Colorado Convention Center in Denver after discovering allegedly improper communications between Golden Valley-based Mortenson, a finalist for the project, and the company overseeing bidding. (Submitted image: Colorado Convention Center)

A major project in Denver, Colorado, has been delayed over alleged bidding improprieties by several companies, including Golden Valley-based Mortenson.

The Minnesota construction giant was one of three finalists to build a $223 million expansion to the Colorado Convention Center. On Dec. 11, the city of Denver halted the selection process and fired its program management services contractor, Dallas-based Trammell Crow Co., due to what Denver Mayor Michael Hancock called “a significant breach of the public trust and a willful violation of a competitive bidding process.”

Trammell Crow isn’t the only company in the city’s crosshairs. In a Dec. 21 letter, Denver Executive Director of Public Works Eulois Cleckley informed Mortenson he is suspending the company’s prequalification to bid on city projects pending a possible revocation, citing a series of emails between Mortenson and Trammell Crow officials.

The emails in question appear to show Trammell Crow officials providing sensitive procurement documents to Mortenson officials, and exchanging ideas for a series of “live scenario” questions to be asked during a final interview. Mortenson also asks Trammell Crow to pressure city officials to visit another Mortenson project in the area, and to add language to the city’s request for qualifications that “would shut down Turner [another bidder],” according to emails provided by the city.

“These communications demonstrate that Mortenson’s actions and inactions evidence a lack of integrity in the process of the city’s procurement” for the project, Cleckley wrote in his letter.

Hancock has asked the Denver district attorney to investigate the “potentially improper collusion” between Trammell Crow and Mortenson. The city plans to restart the selection process with a new contractor, according to Denver-based 9NEWS.

In an email statement, Mortenson said it is in contact with the Denver district attorney and has promised not to speak publicly on the matter while the investigation is ongoing.

“We take this matter very seriously,” Mortenson Senior Vice President Maja Rosenquist said in the statement. “We have conducted a thorough internal investigation, and commit to cooperating with the city to the greatest extent possible.”

The city originally discovered the issue when a city employee noticed a room had been added to the plans that could have increased the cost by $4 million to $6 million, the Denver Post reported Thursday. The subsequent investigation turned up the emails sharing confidential bidding information.

Mortenson does not have any current or near-term projects that will be affected by the suspension of its prequalification status, according to Wendy Aiello, a Denver-based public relations executive representing Mortenson.

Mortenson, which has offices across the country, has built a number of large projects in the Denver area, including the Denver International Airport Hotel and Transit Center and the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center in Aurora.

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Colorado singled out in federal report for high number of homeless families with children compared to other states

Kayle Quillen, right, feeds her son Omar, 1, during dinner at the Samaritan House on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018 in Denver. Through a series of medical problems, losing jobs and selling off their belongings to live, Rojas and her husband have become homeless with their three kids. The family has found refuge for the next 3 months at the Samaritan House that helps provide for homeless families.

So many Colorado families with children are experiencing homelessness that the Samaritan House shelter in downtown Denver is adding rooms to its family ward to respond to demand.

Colorado is the third-highest state in the nation when counting 3,250 homeless families with children, according to a report issued Monday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on the state of homelessness in the United States. The count was conducted on a single night in January to capture a snapshot of homelessness.

Additionally, 32 percent of those 3,250 families with children experiencing homelessness in the state were not in a shelter — “considerably higher” than the national rate of just under 10 percent, the report said.

The annual report based on data from about 3,000 cities and counties across the country is intended to provide a better understanding of the scope of homelessness and help measure progress toward diminishing it, according to a HUD news release. Among Colorado’s findings: homelessness has slightly decreased since the previous year, rural areas are experiencing nationally-significant levels of homelessness, and there are more families with children trying to survive without a home than in other places in the United States.

In total, the annual homeless count found 10,857 Coloradans experiencing homelessness, the report said.

The Samaritan House shelter has 21 rooms to house families in its extended stay program and is adding four more in a $1.5 million renovation hoped to be completed by late summer, said Mike Sinnett, vice president of shelters at Catholic Charities. The Samaritan House is one of the shelters under the Catholic Charities umbrella.

“We are usually full,” Sinnett said. “Families experiencing homelessness are probably one of the largest under-served populations in the area.”

The rooms can accommodate as many as 10 children, with some rooms featuring hotel-like doors connecting rooms between parents and children. The ward is separate from the main shelter so families have their own living quarters, laundry area and television room.

Cathy Alderman, vice president of communications and public policy for Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, explained some of the struggles homeless families face.

“They often go under-counted because they tend to be living in their cars or in motels, and I think we’re seeing in the Denver metro area, with property values increasing, some motels are no longer affordable or available,” Alderman said. “We’re seeing them seek shelters instead, but there’s not very much family shelter space available.”

Parents also can be reluctant to go to shelters with their children for fear of being separated from their little ones or of negative impacts toward their custody arrangements or kids’ schooling, Alderman said.

The Samaritan House’s family program first requires parents to enroll their children in school, then assists in finding employment or a source of income such as disability if unemployable. The program works with its residents to help them save a percentage of money for payment toward permanent housing.

The report found that homelessness in Colorado decreased by .8 percent in 2018. Homelessness experienced by families with children fell by .3 percent statewide since 2017, the report said.

Nationally, the annual count found 552,830 people experiencing homelessness. Most stayed in shelters, the HUD report said.

Alderman challenges the Colorado numbers, noting that the surveys are voluntary and leave out folks living in motels or their vehicles.

“We are experiencing an increase in homelessness across the state,” Alderman said.

Nineteen in every 10,000 people were experiencing homelessness in Colorado, according to the federal report.

Colorado’s rural homeless community stood out as being among the largest of such populations in the country, according to the report. Colorado came in fifth in the country for having the largest number of rural homeless people — 1,443 — experiencing family homelessness, according to the report.

The same organizations also found Colorado had notably high numbers of unaccompanied homeless youth in rural areas and noteworthy numbers of rural veterans experiencing homelessness. The report listed 246 young people and 315 veterans in rural Colorado are experiencing homelessness this year, putting the state in the top-five for both categories in the country.

Alderman explained that traditional sheltering options aren’t often available in rural areas.

“It may not make sense to have a big 200-bed shelter space if you only have 40 or 50 people who may need it,” Alderman said. “Those rural areas really just haven’t found the right solution for providing emergency shelter options in addition to transitional housing. As the numbers increase, we’re really starting to have those conversations in areas you wouldn’t think we’d normally be having them.”

Some of those places, Alderman said, include Durango, Grand Junction, Nederland and rural areas surrounding Fort Collins.

“Maybe during the warmer months, people were camping in park areas in some of these locations, but now they really are needing to come inside when it gets so cold,” Alderman said. “We get calls like this from across the state.”

While Alderman disputes the modest decrease in homelessness the report found, she admits solid progress has been made in finding veterans more permanent shelter.

“The reason for this is the VA has invested tremendous resources in making sure veterans are more frequently connected to long-term housing solutions,” Alderman said. “If we could make that investment at the federal level and state level and locally, we’d be making a lot more progress than we are.”

For example, the Colorado Department of Human Services along with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless on Tuesday morning are kicking off construction of permanent, supportive housing for veterans experiencing homelessness. The project is located at 1919 Quentin St. in Aurora.

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Adam Lerner, visionary director of MCA Denver, stepping down in 2019

MCA Denver director Adam Lerner is stepping down in June 2019 after his contract expires. (Photo by From the Hip Photo, provided by MCA Denver )

Adam Lerner, the acclaimed director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, will step down in June after a decade-long tenure in which he built an international reputation as a risk-taking, influential and financially savvy leader in a fast-growing creative hub.

“My current contract expires in June and the museum is in a really healthy position,” Lerner said Monday. “I’ve managed to take it from $10 million in debt to very stable financially with a significant endowment. Our building is humming with energy, we’ve doubled our visitations and we have incredible momentum.”

The museum’s board has not selected a replacement, but Lerner said he would make himself available to help through the search process.

Lerner, 52, joined MCA Denver in 2009 as the Mark G. Falcone Director and Chief Animator — the latter title a hint of the playful yet professional tone he has cultivated there. He won the job after gaining attention as founder of the Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Belmar (aka The Lab) from 2004 to 2009 and, before that, as the master teacher for modern and contemporary art at the Denver Art Museum and the curator of the Contemporary Museum, Baltimore, according to MCA Denver.

With a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University and a Smithsonian fellowship under his belt, Lerner has spent the last decade mixing high- and lowbrow art, recruiting and showcasing groundbreaking local and international artists, and harnessing the youthful energy around him to increase the status and revenues at MCA Denver.

As of this month, MCA Denver is on track to see 100,000 visitors in 2018 — more than double its annual attendance a decade ago. With a relatively modest budget of $5.2 million and 23 full-time staff members, the museum under Lerner has developed exhibitions featuring renowned artists such as Marilyn Minter, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Senga Nengudi. Those exhibitions have been exported to 26 museums around the world, the MCA Denver said.

Lerner also worked with MCA Denver’s board to restructure $10 million in pre-existing debt to reinvest in exhibitions and other programs. By the time Lerner steps down in June, MCA Denver will have raised all the funds for its current $17.5 million campaign, which began in 2016, he said. Architectural firm David Adjaye and Associates, which designed the museum’s sleek building at 1485 Delgany St., is working on an upcoming remodel that will tap those funds.

“The reason I stayed in this job so long is that I have an incredibly supportive board of trustees,” Lerner said. “They push me but they also support me, and that’s really rare for a museum to give such freedom to develop a position while being rigorous and giving me feedback about it.”

Mike Fries, chairman of MCA Denver’s board, praised Lerner’s “unparalleled vision and willingness to take risks.”

“Adam has been instrumental not only in making MCA the heart of Denver’s cultural community,” Fries said in a news release, “but also in rethinking the role of a traditional art institution by launching groundbreaking programs that are now mimicked around the country.”

Lerner’s popular “Mixed Taste” lecture series — which pairs wildly and often hilariously incompatible subjects (“Crop Circles and Prenups”) — has been adapted nationally, and there’s an entire chapter in the college-taught 2016 book “Creating the Visitor-Centered Museum” that studies MCA’s experiments and successes.

The museum in 2017 also won a $400,000 grant — its largest-ever — from the New York-based Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to train arts professionals from across the country on MCA Denver’s innovative practices.

“When I see museums using language that’s a little bit more casual, that sometimes even has a little bit of irony in it, I’d like to think that MCA Denver opened up the space for that,” Lerner said of the material the museum puts out — including a dozen well-received exhibition books. “You show your confidence more in what you produce by showing that you don’t actually have to take yourself so seriously. Even when you’re sincere.”

“MCA Denver has an identity and a character that places it in the upper tier of contemporary art spaces in the country,” said Vince Kadlubek, co-founder of the Santa Fe-based art collective and exhibition company Meow Wolf, which is planning a multimillion-dollar Denver location. “He has such a commitment to youth and fringe art, and that’s refreshing in the art world. He’s a trailblazer.”

Kadlubek said he was “incredibly inspired” by MCA Denver’s 2014 exhibition “Myopia,” the first-ever gallery show from Devo leader, visual artist and film composer Mark Mothersbaugh, with whom Lerner worked closely.

“That was the first time I’d gone to MCA, and it was incredible that they were showcasing work by an artist who was truly contemporary,” Kadlubek said. “It built a ton of excitement and momentum for us to see this weird, freak, fringe art on the verge of being mainstream.”

Lerner is too enmeshed in day-to-day operations to think much about what he’ll do next, he said. But he’s sure it will have a creative element, however broadly defined, and he’s confident his successor will inherit a museum that continues to balance the avant garde with the accessible.

“I will remain in Denver and I want to try my hand doing more for the city (and) more to enrich people’s lives,” Lerner said. “The challenge, now that the city and (MCA Denver) is so successful, is making sure we’re including people who might not be at the forefront of prosperity. But I feel like the next chapter in my career will be best served not from the office of a museum director.”

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Denver considering possible $15 per hour minimum wage for city workers

2011 Getty Images

DENVER – Mayor Michael Hancock is considering raising the minimum wage for Denver city employees and people who work at businesses operating inside city facilities to $15 an hour, his office announced Tuesday.

The theoretical increase would be phased-in over several years, the mayor’s office said, and would apply to starting wages for city employees, contractors, vendors and tenants as well.

But first, the city’s Department of Finance will explore the feasibility of such an increase. The mayor’s office said the department plans to talk to community members, businesses and city employees and to release its findings and recommendations to the mayor early next year.

Colorado voters in 2016 approved an amendment to the state constitution that will raise the statewide minimum wage to $12 an hour by Jan. 1, 2020. The current statewide minimum wage is $10.20, and it will increase to $11.10 per hour on Jan. 1.

A group of employees at Denver International Airport have already turned in signatures to try and get their initiative to raise minimum wages for some airport workers to $15 an hour onto the May 2019 ballot in Denver. DIA is owned and operated by the city and county of Denver.

Teresita Felix, the organizer of the campaign to get the measure onto May’s ballot, called the city’s announcement “exciting news.”

“I work for United Airlines at Denver International Airport. My wages are so low my daughter and I have to share a house with 20 other people because I can’t afford to live in Denver on my own. That’s why we’re fighting for $15 at DIA,” Felix said in a statement.

Rising costs of living across parts of Colorado have made the minimum wage a major issue. For instance, Aspen Skiing Co. raised its minimum wage for this year’s ski season to $13.50 an hour – up from $12 an hour last year – in order to attract more seasonal workers who have to live in expensive parts of the state. The company also offers benefits.

The issue has also grown in Denver as housing prices continue to rise.

“While unemployment is low and Denver’s economy is among the strongest in the country, wage growth has not kept pace with a rising cost of living,” Hancock said in a statement. “Lower- and middle-income workers are struggling to get by. I’ve been meeting with many employees and listened to stories and experiences. I believe we have an opportunity here to make meaningful difference in people’s lives.”

Hancock is up for re-election in 2019 and will face a slew of candidates.

Copyright 2018 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Denver man in critical condition after being crushed by trash compactor in downtown apartment

A Denver man is in critical condition after falling into a trash chute at a downtown apartment building and being crushed by the compactor for a couple of minutes before help arrived.

Scott Walsh

Scott Walsh, 22, was with a female friend Friday evening in an apartment building near Union Station when her phone fell down the trash chute on the building’s first floor, Walsh’s friend Matt Johnson said. While Walsh peered into the chute, he lost his balance and fell about 15 feet to the trash compactor beneath, Johnson said.

Johnson was leaving work at nearby Pizza Pedal’r when the female friend, whom he also knew, ran through the parking garage beneath the apartment yelling for someone to call 911. The compactor had started to operate while Walsh was inside, and the two could hear him screaming in pain.

Johnson, who also lives in the building, called 911 about 1 a.m. Saturday, and police and firefighters arrived within minutes, he said. He watched as the emergency responders took apart the machine to retrieve Walsh and whisk him away in an ambulance.

“When they brought him out he was still conscious,” Johnson said. “He kept saying that his leg was broken but he didn’t know how bad it really was.”

The compactor broke both of Walsh’s legs, cracked his skull on both sides and ruptured arteries in his neck, his friend Liz DiSalvo said. He’s been heavily sedated but is expected to survive, she said.

Denver police responded to the apartment complex and didn’t find anything suspicious about the incident, spokesman Sonny Jackson said.

The company that manages the apartment was aware of the accident and working with authorities, said Jami Pichot, vice president of operations for Griffis Residential. She said that the safety of the apartments’ residents and guests was important but did not respond to specific questions emailed to her Monday afternoon or return a phone call Tuesday morning.

Griffis Residential manages eight apartment facilities in the Denver metro area and three elsewhere in Colorado. Monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment at the location where Walsh was injured, Griffis Union Station, starts at $1,449.

Walsh’s friends have started an online fundraiser to help pay for his medical bills.

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Denver 2018 Election Guide

DENVER, CO – Are you voting early or do you love the excitement of voting on election day? Can you still register to vote? Patch has compiled helpful links and info for the upcoming national mid-term election on Nov. 6.

On the ballot, candidates are vying for national and statewide offices in Colorado, as well as Colorado state legislature and county-wide offices. There are also statewide ballot initiatives, and ballot questions for local residents and judge retention questions.

If you’d like to see what your ballot looks like, you can enter your address here.

Ballots were mailed to all Democrat, Republican or unaffiliated voters by county clerk and recorders offices around Oct. 15.

Ballots must be received by Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. to be counted.

Here are the races in Denver:

State Senator – District 16

James Gilman (Libertarian)

State Senator – District 32 (Open)

State Senator – District 34 (Open)

State Representative – District 1

State Representative – District 2

Alec Garnett (Democrat) Incumbent (unopposed)

State Representative – District 4 (Open)

Robert ‘Dave’ John (Republican)

State Representative – District 5 (Open)

Alex Valdez (Democrat)

Rory Lamberton (Libertarian)

State Representative – District 6

Christopher Hansen (Democrat) Incumbent (unopposed)

State Representative – District 7

James Rashad Coleman (Democrat) Incumbent

Jay Frank Kucera (Republican)

State Representative – District 8

Leslie Herod (Democrat) Incumbent (unopposed)

State Representative – District 9 (Open)

Bob Lane (Republican)

Regional Transportation District Director – District B (Open)

Chris Martinez
Shontel Lewis

Regional Transportation District Director – District C (Open)

Angie Rivera-Malpiede
Julia Stewart
Eliot Tipton

Ballot issues for Denver:

REFERRED MEASURE 2A – A quarter-penny sales tax/use increase for parks in Denver.

REFERRED MEASURE 2B – Would change the number of valid signatures required to place an initiative or referendum on the ballot from a percentage of votes cast for Mayor in the last election to a percentage of active registered voters in Denver.

REFERRED MEASURE 2C – Would promote "greater flexibility" in the hiring of lateral recruits for classified service in the Denver Police Department.

REFERRED MEASURE 2D – Would give the County Clerk Recorder’s office at-will hiring powers for Deputy Clerk and Recorder and two other jobs. Would eliminate the requirement that the Director of Elections must be an at-will appointee of the Clerk and Recorder.

REFERRED MEASURE 2E – Would ban corporations and other entities from donating directly to candidates, lower contribution limits, and create a Fair Elections Fund to match donations of 50 dollars or less at a ratio of 9 to 1 to candidates who voluntarily agree to raise money in lower amounts and take contributions only from natural persons.

INITIATED ORDINANCE 300 – Would fund college scholarships for Denver students via a .08 percent sales tax increase up to $13.9 million annually.

INITIATED ORDINANCE 301 – Would raise money for youth mental health and suicide prevention programs for Denver children by raising sales tax by .25 percent of a penny up to $45 million annually.

INITIATED ORDINANCE 302 – Would fund a 13-member Denver Food Commission to provide "healthy food and food-based education" by raising sales tax by .08 percent up to $11.2 million annually.

BALLOT ISSUE 7G – Would pay for a regional 1-mill tax levy increase to pay for metro-Denver anti-flooding work.

Mail deadline approaching! Monday, October 29th is the last day to: Register to vote & receive a ballot in the mail Return your ballot in the mail Register online today & find ballot drop-box locations at #DenverVotes— Denver Elections (@DenverElections) October 26, 2018

Not registered to vote? You can register up until election day at any Denver County Voter Service Center:

Ballots were mailed to all Democrat, Republican or unaffiliated voters by county clerk and recorders offices around Oct. 15. Ballots must be received by Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. to be counted.
See Denver’s up-to-the minute ballot tally here.

Below are the Ballot Drop-Off Locations in Denver County

24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Barnum Recreation Center
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Bear Valley Branch Library
Site open on – 6/21/2018
Mobile Voting Location
Bear Valley Library
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Blair-Caldwell Library
Site opens beginning – 6/25/2018
Voter Service and Polling Center
Blair-Caldwell Library
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Carla Madison Recreation Center
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Central Park Recreation Center
Voter Service and Polling Center
Christ Community Church
Site open on – 6/26/2018
Mobile Voting Location
Conservatory Green Park
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Cook Park Recreation Center
Site open on – 6/22/2018
Mobile Voting Location
Cook Park Recreation Center
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Denver Botanic Gardens
Voter Service and Polling Center
Denver Elections Division
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Denver Elections Division
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Denver Human Services
Site open on – 6/25/2018
Mobile Voting Location
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Denver Police Department District 1
Voter Service and Polling Center
Denver Police Department District 3
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Denver Police Department District 3
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Eisenhower Recreation Center
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Green Valley Ranch Recreation Center
Voter Service and Polling Center
Harvey Park Recreation Center
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Harvey Park Recreation Center
Voter Service and Polling Center
Hiawatha Davis Jr Recreation Center
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Hiawatha Davis Jr Recreation Center
Voter Service and Polling Center
Highland Recreation Center
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Highland Recreation Center
Voter Service and Polling Center
Montbello Recreation Center
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Montbello Recreation Center
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Montclair Recreation Center
Site opens beginning – 6/23/2018
Voter Service and Polling Center
Montclair Recreation Center
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
RTD – I-25 and Broadway Station
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
RTD – Light Rail at Union Station
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
RTD – Southmoor Station
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Ross – Cherry Creek Branch Library
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Scheitler Recreation Center
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Southwest Recreation Center
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Washington Park Recreation Center
24-Hour Ballot Drop-Off Box
Wellington Webb Municipal Building
Site opens beginning – 6/25/2018
Voter Service and Polling Center
Wellington Webb Municipal building

Image via Shutterstock

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Great-West Lifeco to buy Guggenheim’s real estate PE platform

Photo courtesy of Nikada/iStock/Getty Images

GWL Realty Advisors US Inc (GWLRA US), an affiliate of Winnipeg-based financial services holding company Great-West Lifeco, has agreed to acquire the real estate private equity platform of Guggenheim Investments.

Terms weren’t released for the deal, which is expected to close in Q4 2018.

Power Corp of Canada‘s Great-West said the acquisition of Guggenheim Real Estate LLC (GRE) will enhance its investment platform in the United States.

GRE will be combined with Denver, Colorado-based EverWest Real Estate Investors, which was acquired by GWLRA US earlier this year.


Great-West Lifeco subsidiary GWL Realty Advisors U.S. announces agreement to acquire Guggenheim Real Estate private equity platform and related funds

WINNIPEG, Oct. 17, 2018 /CNW/ – Great-West Lifeco Inc. announced today that its subsidiary, GWL Realty Advisors U.S. Inc. (GWLRA U.S.), has entered into an agreement to acquire Guggenheim Real Estate LLC (GRE), the real estate private equity platform of Guggenheim Investments. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“This strategic acquisition of GRE complements our global real estate growth strategy and further enhances our platform within the U.S. marketplace,” said Paul Mahon, President and Chief Executive Officer, Great-West Lifeco.

Founded in 2001, and with offices in Boston and Charlotte, GRE will combine with EverWest Real Estate Investors (EverWest), a real estate investment management and operating company acquired by GWLRA U.S. in February 2018.

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2018 and is subject to customary regulatory approvals and certain closing conditions.

About Guggenheim Investments
Guggenheim Investments is the global asset management and investment advisory division of Guggenheim Partners, with more than US$208 billion¹ in total assets across fixed income, equity, and alternative strategies. We focus on the return and risk needs of insurance companies, corporate and public pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, endowments and foundations, consultants, wealth managers, and high-net-worth investors. Our 300+ investment professionals perform rigorous research to understand market trends and identify undervalued opportunities in areas that are often complex and underfollowed. This approach to investment management has enabled us to deliver innovative strategies providing diversification opportunities and attractive long-term results.

About EverWest Real Estate Investors
EverWest Real Estate Investors is a real estate investment and operating company based in Denver, Colorado, whose goal is to create significant value for investors through a combination of capital appreciation, strategic acquisition, development, capitalization, repositioning, and management of commercial real estate assets.

About GWL Realty Advisors Inc.
GWL Realty Advisors, the parent company of GWLRA U.S. Inc., is a leading real estate investment advisor providing comprehensive asset management, property management, development and specialized real estate advisory services to pension funds and institutional clients. In 2018, GWLRA received a Green Star ranking for the fourth consecutive year from the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark, the world’s leading benchmark for evaluating and ranking the sustainability practices of real estate companies. GWLRA is a subsidiary of The Great-West Life Assurance Company. To learn more, visit

About Great-West Lifeco Inc.
Great-West Lifeco Inc. is an international financial services holding company with interests in life insurance, health insurance, retirement and investment services, asset management and reinsurance businesses. Great-West Lifeco has operations in Canada, the United States and Europe through Great-West Life, London Life, Canada Life, Irish Life, Great-West Financial and Putnam Investments. Great-West Lifeco and its companies have over C$1.4 trillion in consolidated assets under administration as at June 30, 2018 and are members of the Power Financial Corporation group of companies. Great-West Lifeco trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) under the ticker symbol GWO. To learn more, visit

1 Assets under management are as of 6.30.2018 and includes leverage of US$11.7bn. Guggenheim Investments represents the following affiliated investment management businesses of Guggenheim Partners, LLC: Guggenheim Partners Investment Management, LLC, Security Investors, LLC, Guggenheim Funds Investment Advisors, LLC, Guggenheim Funds Distributors, LLC, Guggenheim Real Estate, LLC, GS GAMMA Advisors, LLC, Guggenheim Partners Europe Limited and Guggenheim Partners India Management.

For further information: Media Relations: Liz Kulyk, Great-West Lifeco, 204-926-5012,; Investor Relations: Deirdre Neary, Great-West Lifeco, 416-552-3208,

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‘More Shanty Towns, Ghettos’: The Cost Of Too Little Affordable Housing

DENVER (CBS4) – “I have my two year old son and then I have a 6 year old and then I take care of, I just got custody on my birthday of my 11-year-old brother,” a 26 year old who calls herself Mona Lisa told us.

She was shy of the camera, so we agreed not to show her image. She was packing things in a van as she moved to new HUD supported housing.

CBS4’s Alan Gionet interviews “Mona Lisa.” (credit: CBS)

“My dad just passed away in February and my goal is to keep my family together. So I also have my three nephews with me too.”

That’s six children.

She works overnights stocking at Walmart, but wants to go into cosmetology.

There’s not much time to pursue it.

“I’m not sitting up here, I’m not doing drugs, getting drunk,” she says. “Housing is the best thing that could happen to me.”

(credit: CBS)

The most recent numbers from the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness shows 10,940 people experiencing homelessness on a typical night in 2017, the most recent year for available data. The number dropped in the 2000s as home prices slid, then rose.

“The economics in the growing economy like this, you know it’s good for some, (but) by for those on the margins those at the lowest incomes, they’re the ones who lose out,” said John Parvensky, President and CEO of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. “A community has to decide are they going to invest in housing the same way that they invest in transportation, they invest in other systems. Or they’re going to have less quality of life for the whole community.”

Gionet interviews John Parvensky. (credit: CBS)

Willie Allen lives on the streets. Sometimes he can stay at his girlfriend’s place but her transitional housing requires additional payment to stay.

“I might last a couple hours until police come and say, hey you gotta move. Or security comes and says hey you can’t sleep here,” says Allen.

Like some, there are other issues. Finding work is one thing after a previous drug conviction. But he’s clear-eyed and says he’s changing his life.

“It seems like a long hard road. Because they want so much in deposit, they want so much in background check.”

Without enough affordable housing Parvensky says there are going to be growing symptoms of a shortage.

“You’re going to have more and more shanty towns, you’re going to have more and more ghettos, you’re going to have more substandard housing and tent cities and we’re seeing that in cities across the west coast. We’re starting to see that in pockets of the metro Denver area.”

A drive along some of the urban corridors shows people camping at night in places where there were no people before.

“We have to invest in housing in affordable housing just like we have to invest in other infrastructure like roads and bridges and sanitary sewer systems or we don’t have the quality of life that we would like to see, that any great city would have,” said Parvensky.

Alan Gionet is anchor of CBS4 This Morning and reports on a wide variety of issues and “Good Question” stories. He started at CBS4 in 1994. Follow Alan on Twitter @AlanGTV or on Facebook.

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Housing Market Slows, as Rising Prices Outpace Wages

DENVER — By nearly any measure, this city is booming. The unemployment rate is below 3 percent. There is so much construction that a local newspaper started a “crane watch” feature. Seemingly every week brings headlines about companies bringing high-paying jobs to the area.

Yet, Denver’s once-soaring housing market has run into turbulence. Sales and construction activity have slowed in recent months. Houses that would once have drawn a frenzy of offers are sitting on the market for days or weeks. Selling prices are rising more slowly, and asking prices are being slashed to attract buyers.

Similar slowdowns have hit New York, Seattle and even San Francisco, cities that until recently ranked among the nation’s hottest housing markets. The specifics vary, but economists, real estate agents and home builders say the core issue is the same: Home buyers are reaching a breaking point after years of breakneck price increases that far exceeded income gains.

“The local economy is still fantastic, all the fundamentals are there, but obviously wages are not keeping pace,” said Steve Danyliw, a Denver realtor. “As the market continues to move up, buyers are being pushed out.”

Rachel Sandoval is one of them. An elementary schoolteacher in the Denver Public Schools, Ms. Sandoval earns about $50,000 a year, enough to afford a condominium or a modest house in most markets. But not in Denver, where the median sales price for all homes was $410,000 in August, and where even condos routinely top $300,000 — a price Ms. Sandoval calls “not even close to feasible.” She said she was scoping out jobs in Texas, where houses are cheaper and pay is higher, and considering leaving teaching in search of a higher salary.

For now, Ms. Sandoval, 41, is sharing a one-bathroom rental house with two roommates, a nurse and an adjunct professor. The three stick to a strict schedule to make sure they can all get to work on time.

“We are professionals, we have degrees,” Ms. Sandoval said. “This was not the plan.”

Nationwide, sales of previously owned homes fell 1.5 percent in August from a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors. Residential building permits were down 5.5 percent over the past year, according to the Department of Commerce. Many economists say the housing market may have turned into a drag on the gross domestic product.

The recent slowdown, however, is unlikely to give would-be buyers like Ms. Sandoval much relief. Prices in Denver are still up 8 percent over the past year, according to the S&P Case-Shiller index. That’s cool compared to the double-digit gains of a couple years ago, but well ahead of the 6 percent increase in average hourly earnings over the same period. Rising interest rates have also made buying homes more expensive.

Few analysts expect an outright decline in home prices anytime soon. That’s because, unlike the speculative bubble of the mid-2000s, the recent run-up in prices has been driven primarily by economic fundamentals: People are moving to Denver faster than developers can build places to live. The Denver region has added more than 300,000 residents since 2010, making it one of the country’s fastest-growing areas.

Introductory economics textbooks suggest that high prices should attract more supply or suppress demand — or both. Inventories of unsold homes have risen in Denver and other markets in recent months, and the real estate site Zillow found that price cuts have become more common.

Over all, however, the housing market is not behaving as the textbooks say it should. Inventories remain low despite the recent increases, and new construction is slowing, not picking up.

Part of the problem, local real estate agents say, is that the furious pace of price growth has essentially gummed up the market, making homeowners reluctant to sell for fear of being unable to find a new home.

Rising interest rates are compounding the problem because would-be sellers do not want to give up their low interest rates, a phenomenon economists call the lock-in effect.

Brant and Annie Wiedel spent more than a year trying to get a foothold in Denver’s housing market — and they are reluctant to give it up. The couple estimate that they looked at 160 houses before finally closing on a three-bedroom ranch house in Lakewood, a suburb, three years ago.

With two children and a third due in January, the Wiedels would like to trade up. With the rise in home prices some renovations, the house they bought for $350,000 could be worth more than $500,000.

But the family borrowed at about 3.5 percent three years ago. Today, they would pay closer to 5 percent. “Even if we just saw houses at the same price, we’d have to pay more” every month, he said.

Ultimately, the key to breaking the logjam is to build more homes. Downtown Denver is crawling with cranes, many of them erecting amenity-filled apartment complexes aimed at young professionals. A drive in almost any direction from downtown reveals freshly built subdivisions with names like Tallgrass, The Enclave and Green Gables Reserve.

Most of those new homes, however, will list for more than $400,000. And hardly any builders are selling properties for under $300,000 without government subsidies. Even many home builders worry they are pricing themselves out of the market.

“I see the biggest threat to our business as the affordability challenge, that we are building houses that people can’t afford,” said Gene Myers, chief executive of Thrive Home Builders.

The problem, Mr. Myers and other local builders say, is cost. The price of land, building permits and other fees can run close to $150,000 for a single-family lot — before construction.

Some of the challenges are specific to Colorado. Quirks in state law, for example, make it easy for condominium buyers to collectively sue builders over construction defects, making developers reluctant to build condos.

But other issues are common to many cities. Building materials have become more expensive, in part because of tariffs on lumber and other products that President Trump imposed this year. Labor costs are rising, too, especially for skilled trade workers. Restrictive zoning makes it hard to build denser developments that make cheaper homes profitable for builders.

“They’re producing what they can produce,” said Sam Khater, chief economist for Freddie Mac, the government housing-finance company. “The problem is, it’s uneconomic for them to produce affordable.”

This big-city conundrum is spreading. People priced out of San Francisco moved to Seattle and Portland, driving up prices and displacing people who moved to Denver and Austin. Next on the list: Boise, Nashville and other cities offering some of the same attractions at lower prices.

Sure enough, the online real estate site Redfin this spring found that Denver had joined Seattle and San Francisco as cities with a “net outflow” of users — that is, there were more people on the site looking to leave Denver than to move there.

“City after city is going to face this,” said Glenn Kelman, Redfin’s chief executive. “At some point, the buyers step back and say, ‘Enough is enough.’”

More people are moving to Denver than leaving it, but migration has tapered off in recent years. J. J. Ament, chief executive of Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, said he had seen no sign that rising home prices were making the region less attractive. Last month, VF Corporation, an apparel maker that owns brands like The North Face and Vans, announced it would move its headquarters to Denver from North Carolina, partly because of the area’s reputation for outdoor activities. The state also offered $27 million in incentives.

“I wouldn’t use the word ‘crisis,’” Mr. Ament said. “The work force is still willing to move here.”

Plenty of people in Denver do use the word “crisis,” however. A January report from Shift Research Lab, a local research group, concluded that years of under-building have left the region with a shortfall of tens of thousands of housing units.

That shortfall could threaten Denver’s growth, said Phyllis Resnick, a Colorado State University economist and one of the report’s authors. The skilled workers moving to the area, who have been so important to attracting companies and jobs, want to be able to eat out at restaurants, drop off their dry cleaning and send their children to school, all of which require lower and middle income workers. If they cannot afford to live in the area, Ms. Resnick said, Denver will not retain its allure — and the economy will not keep growing.

“My concern is, at some point it sort of breaks because we can’t house the folks that we need to fill out all the economic activity in the region,” she said. “I’m not convinced that in the near term it will correct itself just through market forces, unless that’s through people moving out.”

Local governments and charities are trying to address the problem. The Denver City Council last month voted to double, to $30 million per year, the city’s affordable housing fund, which is used to build and preserve homes for low-income residents. Late last year, nonprofit groups announced they had raised $24 million to start the Elevation Community Land Trust, which will buy land to create permanently affordable housing. Another new program aims to help public schoolteachers come up with down payments.

To have a big impact, economists say Denver and other cities have to build more homes affordable to middle-class families. That will require persuading communities accustomed to single-family homes to accept condos and townhomes.

“The only way to solve the riddle is through density,” said Dave Lemnah, co-owner of Lokal Homes, a Denver builder.

That’s why he is building projects like the Villas at Wheatlands, a 94-unit development in Aurora, east of Denver. Each lot has three attached units arranged like a jigsaw puzzle. Lokal sells the homes for less than $400,000; some go for close to $300,000.

One buyer, Angela Kirkland-Vandecar, an aesthetician and a single mother, has spent two years searching for a home she could afford on her roughly $50,000 income.

When Ms. Kirkland-Vandecar began her search, she did not want to move to Aurora or to a condo.

“I’ve now done everything that in the beginning I said I was not going to do,” she said.

But Ms. Kirkland-Vandecar feels good about her decision. Her monthly mortgage payment will be less than her $1,900 monthly rent, and she is happy not to have a lawn to mow. Her daughters, 11 and 13, will have their own rooms, and she will no longer have to store food in the laundry room, as she did in the cramped apartment she had been renting.

Walking through her nearly ready house recently, looking for defects, Ms. Kirkland-Vandecar opened a door in the kitchen and paused. A Lokal Homes worker asked if she had found a problem. She shook her head.

“I’m just enjoying my pantry,” she said.

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