Piper Sandler Looks Toward Investment in the Rocky Mountain Region in 2023

1144 Fifteenth Street, courtesy of Piper Sandler.

Following a record-breaking year in 2021, the Piper Sandler Special District Group, a specialty financing group with more than 30 years of experience helping to fund public infrastructure for new development, continued to see significant growth in 2022 with the expansion of its team and the opening of a new Denver headquarters. Despite significant market changes, the company continued its work to support housing affordability and is now looking forward to what the company – and the industry – can expect in 2023.

“After having our best year ever in 2021, we were focused this year on growing our team and opening a new headquarters and that has allowed us to sustain momentum even in the midst of market turbulence,” said Zach Bishop, managing director of the Piper Sandler Special District Group. “Our team’s dedication to our mission and to our client’s success positions us for continued success as the market continues to demand infrastructure for real estate development.”

Piper Sandler added 10 new employees in 2022 – six in Colorado and four in Utah – and added significant new hires to the female leadership team. Notable additions to the team include Sheila Mares, senior vice president of Piper Sandler Special District Group, and the promotion of Shelby Noble to managing director.

In 2022, Piper Sandler’s Colorado public finance group moved into its new Denver headquarters in the Class A office tower at 1144 Fifteenth Street. The company’s 39 Denver-based employees now occupy more than 12,000 square feet on the 20th floor of the building which was developed by Hines and opened in 2018. The group’s Utah-based team plans to occupy a new Salt Lake City headquarters in the next year as well.

Piper Sandler spent much of 2022 focusing on education and the vital role that metropolitan districts play in communities across Colorado. The group is active in setting the legislative agenda through the Metro District Education Coalition, which it helped found. MDEC was successful in passing a significant metro district reform bill (Senate Bill 262) in 2021 and was active in the most recent legislative session advocating for common sense reforms that work towards housing affordability in the region. In addition, they hosted their first in-person Piper Sandler Special District Conference in Denver this past May where the real estate community, local government officials, and industry consultants gathered for two days to hear from the firm’s Chief Economist, Nancy Lazar, discuss trends in the industry, and network with investors.

Piper Sandler closed several significant transactions in 2022 many of which were focused on bringing water to new projects, an issue that will be increasingly relevant in the coming years.

“All new development is reliant on the availability of water and will be increasingly so with the Colorado River Compact being re-worked,” said Jonathan Heroux, managing director of the Special District Group at Piper Sandler. “Water will continue to be one of the biggest issues we face in the industry not just in 2023 but for the foreseeable future.”

Another trend that Piper Sandler continues to be heavily invested in is supporting the creation of attainable housing. While affordability has been a problem in the region for years, it is now becoming increasingly so due to the increase in mortgage rates that occurred in 2022.

“The change in the housing market has been significant,” said Shelby Noble, managing director of the Special District Group at Piper Sandler. “Inventory is still tight and mortgage rate increases are far outstripping any price improvement, making the market more challenging than ever for consumers. Fortunately, there are still developers and homebuilders – many of them our clients – working to bring attainable housing to areas of Colorado that have immense demand and limited supply.”

Beyond the trends they anticipate for 2023, Piper Sandler will also look to make several key new hires, including a dedicated business development person and operations lead in Colorado, and will be focused on continuing expansion in Utah as well as several new markets.

“Texas builds four times as many homes each year as Colorado,” said Sam Sharp, managing director and head of the Special District Group at Piper Sandler. “We have had incredible success in Colorado, and we see big opportunities to continue growing in Utah and pushing toward more national expansion. The environment may be challenging, but we are definitely investing, not retreating.”

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