Inverness Business Park pioneer’s Celebration of Life on Saturday

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Inverness Business Park was “put on the map” by John O’Meara.

Mr. O’Meara died on June 10, after a long illness.

A Celebration of Life for Mr. O’Meara is Saturday morning at the Inverness Hotel.

Inverness

A Celebration of Life will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Inverness Hotel for the late John O’Meara.

John Francis O’Meara was an avid marathoner at one point of his life.

Mr. O’Meara, who died at age 75 on June 10, also understood that what it takes to be a long-distance runner also applied to business when doing deals at the Inverness Business Park,

“John understood that business is a marathon and not a sprint,” said Peter Coakley.

Coakley will be one of the speakers at a Celebration of Life in honor of Mr. O’Meara this Saturday. The ceremony will start at 10 a.m. at the Inverness Hotel and Conference Center, 200 Inverness Drive.

“John touched hundreds of lives and was very well liked and respected,” Coakley said.

“I think the hotel will be packed.”

Coakley, who at Opus Development Co. is in charge of a massive development of 42 acres of land on the southeast corridor that had been owned by the late cable TV pioneer Glenn Jones, got his first job in real estate when Mr. O’Meara hired him at Inverness Properties, the developer of the almost 1,000-acre business park south of the Denver Tech Center.

“I began my real estate career in 1981, when John hired me as a broker associate at Inverness Properties,” Coakley said.

Inverness

The late John O’Meara ran the Inverness Business Park for Inverness Properties for 30 years.

Mr. O’Meara not only became a mentor to Coakley, but the two became fast friends.

“I was an avid cyclists and John was an avid runner,” Coakley recalled on Thursday.

“I convinced him that bicycling would be easier on his knees. He finally agreed and he became an avid cyclist.”
The two spent many hours and covered thousands of miles on their bikes, although that pales compared to the time Mr. O’Meara spent biking with other close friends, Brad Neiman and Bob Moody.

A bit part of Mr. O’Meara’s legacy will be the Inverness Business Park.

“The success of the Inverness Business Park is a testament to John more than anyone else,” Coakley said.

“John put Inverness on the map.”

Inverness, which has since been heralded as a national model for its park-like setting and its wide mix of office users, and more recently apartments, wasn’t an overnight success.

“Brokers called us Outverness because we were out so far,” Mr. O’Meara told the Rocky Mountain News in 2001.

“Now, we’re in the heart of the southeast corridor,” he said at the time.

And Mr. O’Meara was about as far removed from the caricature of a developer who needs to wring  every last possible dollar from the person at the other end of the negotiating table, whether they were leasing space, looking to buy land, or were in the market for a build-to-suit.

“He understood that it was important that both parties came away happy,” Coakley said.

That is why, over the years, Inverness enjoyed so much repeat business, he said.

Inverness

A Celebration of Life for John O’Meara starts at 10 a.m. this Saturday at the Inverness Hotel and Conference Center.

“The key lesson I learned from John is that your word is your bond,” Coakley said.

“Honesty and integrity meant everything to John.”

Mr. O’Meara joined George Beardsley and Al Cohen, the original developers of Inverness in 1976, after a short stint as a broker at Coldwell Banker Commercial (now CBRE.)

He remained as president of Inverness Properties until he retired in 2006.

Mr. O’Meara, born in Birmingham, New York, came to Colorado in 1973, “to seek adventure,” as well as start a new job.

After several years at Xerox Corp., he came to Colorado to encourage and train promising young minorities to pursue business careers.

When his one year in the program was up, Mr. O’Meara was in love with Colorado and didn’t want to return to the East Coast.

He switched careers to real estate to stay in Denver.

That is how Neiman first met Mr. O’Meara in the early 1970s.

Neiman was listing an industrial property in Montbello and Mr. O’Meara was representing a prospective buyer.

“As it turned out, John and his client arrived at the office a little before me,” Neiman recalled.

Neiman walked into the room and saw a tall man and Mr. O’Meara, who was perhaps a half-foot shorter.

“I thought John was the client,” and the other man was the broker, he said.

“John just had this stature about him and he was wearing a very nice gray suit,” Neiman said.

The investor didn’t buy the property, but Mr. O’Meara and Neiman immediately hit it off.

Inverness

“At that time in Denver, there weren’t many of us,” Neiman said.

By “us,” he meant industrial real estate brokers.

“If there were 100 industrial brokers in the entire city, that would have been a lot,” he said.

“When somebody stopped by your office, it meant something. It’s not like industrial brokers were tripping over each other.”

Over the years, they took many bike trips together.

They did Ride the Rockies, Pedal the Peaks and a couple of mountain bike treks in Moab.

“We also did a variety of daily rides and we climbed Mountain Evans and Squaw Pass and many others,” Neiman said.

On many of the rides, they were joined by Moody, who ran the Colorado chapter of the National Association of Office and Industrial Parks for many years. Mr. O’Meara was one of the founding members of NAOIP.

The three of them also took many runs during their lunch hour.

“Back in the ‘70s, during the running craze, if you were healthy, that is what you did,” Neiman said.

“John was a better runner than me, even though he was a couple of years older. John never let anything stop him, so I wouldn’t let anything stop me.”

“John also had a place in Copper Mountain, and we skied there together several times,” Neiman said..

Neiman actually had been involved with Inverness before Mr. O’Meara, as the principal of the companies he was with were early investors in the business park with Beardsley and Cohen.

Over the years, Neiman also developed seven buildings in Inverness and sold 16 or 17 buildings in the business park

“Sometimes there were institutional sales of buildings and John would call me to help out, as marketing, not institutional sales, was his forte,” Neiman said.

However, when institutional investors came to Inverness, “John could talk the talk,” Neiman said.
“It was important that big, institutional investors were made to feel comfortable and John did that very well,” he said.

Coakley said that Mr. O’Meara put his family above all else. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Ilene Martin O’Meara and “three wonderful children,” Coakley said.

“He was funny and intelligent,” Coakley said.

He also truly listened to people, on a personal and professional level.

“John was always interested and interesting,” Coakley said.

Given that he was so active and athletic all his life, it was hard for him when his body began to fail him, Coakley said.

Mr. O’Meara died after a long struggle with Atypical Parkinson with Lewy Body Dementia.

Neiman and Moody  visited Mr. O’Meara a half dozen times as he neared the end of his life. They last saw him just a couple of days before he died.

“He recognized Bob once, but he no longer knew who I was,” Neiman said.

“His time had come.”

Have a story idea or real estate tip? Contact John Rebchook at JRCHOOK@gmail.com. DenverRealEstateWatch.com is sponsored by 8z Real Estate. To read more articles by John Rebchook, subscribe to the Colorado Real Estate Journal.

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John Rebchook

John Rebchook has more than 30 years of experience in writing and communications. As the Real Estate Editor for the Rocky Mountain News, he wrote about residential and commercial real estate for 26 years. He has won numerous awards for business stories and columns that he wrote, both as an individual and part of teams. In addition to real estate, he also covered economic development, banking and financing, the airlines, and cable TV for the Rocky. In addition, he was one of the original freelance writers for GlobeSt.com, covering commercial real estate for the Internet publication.

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