One of the largest comic book retailers in the world is putting its north Denver headquarters on the market — and the owner of Mile High Comics credits the state’s legal marijuana economy for boosting his potential profit.
But the decision to sell the 22,000 square foot warehouse at 2151 W. 56th Ave. in Denver didn’t come easy to Chuck Rozanski, who started the legendary business in his parents’ basement in 1969, when he was 13.
“I wish I could say that I was was prescient about the Denver real estate market,” said Rozanski, “but this is truly a case of luck shining on me and my being extremely fortunate.”
Rozanski’s agent at Colliers International recently listed the building for almost $1.6 million. He’s owned the building for 29 years.
The sale won’t affect Mile High Comics’ three retail locations, though in order to thin inventory, Rozanski has started a fire sale of sorts that is already benefitting collectors.
“I simply could no longer ignore the stunning market appreciation caused by the change in the pot laws,” Rozanski wrote in a letter to his customers.
In part because outdoor marijuana cultivation isn’t allowed in most Colorado counties, cannabis businesses occupy 3.7 million square feet of industrial space in Denver — and one in 11 industrial buildings in central Denver, according to commercial real estate firm CBRE. Warehouse rents are high and vacancy rates are low.
“In a nutshell,” Rozanski’s letter continues, “we can now sell the smaller of our two buildings for triple what we paid, thus injecting over a million dollars of fresh working capital into Mile High Comics.”
The cash infusion will reduce Mile High Comics’ debt-to-equity ratio substantially — something that will allow Rozanski to resume buying trips that are vital to sustaining his business, he said.
“I’m a great comics buyer,” he said, estimating his inventory of “comics, trade paperbacks, magazines, toys and god-know-what-else” at around 10 million items. “But I haven’t been doing these buying trips, because we’ve been getting the Jason Street store ready, and that’s required all of my working capital.”
But before the buying begins, Rozanski and his staff must move more than 6 million comic books and the shelves that hold them — around 375 tons, he estimates — from the warehouse to the 60,000-square-foot super-store at 4600 Jason St.
“The good news: They’re only a mile apart from each other,” Rozanski said, “and we can do it all with pallets.”
That legal cannabis could help Rozanski’s business isn’t lost on him.
He said he voted for Amendment 64, which legalized the sale and consumption of marijuana for recreational use in 2012.
But more importantly, he said, “we didn’t call it Mile High Comics because it was based in Denver. The whole thing was tongue-in-cheek. I was a massive stoner when I was in college. And here we are 40 years later, and it turns out the pot law spins it all around. It’s hilarious.”
Listing agent Colliers vice president Steve Serenyi said too much has been made of marijuana’s impact on Denver’s industrial real estate market.
“Marijuana drove the market during the Great Recession, but over the last couple years Denver’s become a bustling city,” Serenyi said. “Marijuana occupies maybe 1 percent of the industrial market, and that frankly isn’t enough to drive the appreciation we’ve seen.”
Ricardo Baca: 303-954-1394, firstname.lastname@example.org or @bruvs