Dec. 22--After years of economic malaise stifling business activity, a slew of new developments moved forward in Boulder County in 2013, but, by the fall, historic flooding would have devastating effects on residents and communities.
Below is the Daily Camera's annual look back at the most significant business-related news events in Boulder and Broomfield counties during the past 12 months.
Some potentially significant events -- including the ground-breaking of Boulder Junction, the potential revitalization of storied music studio Caribou Ranch and the progress on the Superior Town Center -- were not included on this year's list as their impacts most likely will be larger next year.
Next week's Business Plus will highlight some companies and business-related storylines to watch in the coming year.
For now, we'll look back at 2013.
1.) Housing highs and lows: Real estate rebounds, historic flood takes its toll
When 2012 came to a close, key indicators started to signal that the local housing market was in recovery mode. Gains in home sales became steady, foreclosures found a bottom, rental markets tightened and new construction projects commenced.
The indicators proved true, and the combination of historically low interest rates, population influx, economic growth, low inventory and pent-up demand brewed a "perfect storm" in Boulder County's residential real estate industry. Multiple offers and fast, auction-like sales were commonplace in the sellers' market with some cities in the county posting double-digit increases.
Activity picked up across all spectrums of the market, including the high-end. About 40 homes sold for more than $2 million, effectively doubling the luxury sales recorded in 2012.
This year also saw a wealth of new construction and proposed developments, including various multifamily projects in Boulder and a slew of residential projects in Erie.
Come September, Boulder County homes and livelihoods were drastically affected by the historic rainfall and subsequent flooding that ensued.
The flood destroyed 337 structures totaling $41 million in market value, according to the Boulder County Assessor's Office. Thousands more residences were damaged, with some residents having to take on the brunt of the economic losses.
2.) Big year for big deals: M&A, IPO activity surge
The Boulder region's entrepreneurial spirit was handsomely rewarded in 2013.
Boulder-bred firms Rally Software Corp. and Noodles & Company took to Wall Street with initial public offerings of $84 million and $96.4 million, respectively.
Other established tech firms and startups landed in the hands of larger companies.
Among the largest deals: games maker Hasbro Inc. paid $112 million for a majority stake in Boulder's Backflip Studios, a mobile game developer; flash memory product developer Fusion-io bought Louisville's NexGen Storage for $119 million; and Seattle's F5 Networks shelled out $125 million for Louisville's LineRate Systems. The LineRate deal was said to be the region's largest networking buyout since HP acquired Lefthand Networks for $360 million in 2008.
Boulder-area companies that were suitors in $100 million-plus deals included Clovis Oncology Inc., which paid $200 million in stock and cash to acquire the Italy-based Ethical Oncology Sciences, and WhiteWave Foods, which bought organic produce company Earthbound Farm for $600 million in cash. WhiteWave, which spun off from Dean Foods earlier this year, moved its official headquarters to Denver, but maintains its North American operations in Broomfield.
While smaller in dollar value, two acquisitions in the outdoor retail industry had significant effects locally.
Texas-based outdoor retail chain Backwoods bought Boulder's Neptune Mountaineering, which Gary Neptune opened in 1973; and the running division of Denver's Gart Cos. bought the Boulder Running Company.
3.) Controversy ensues: Walmart arrives in Boulder