Holy land: Kentwood Commercial adds team focused on religious properties

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From left to right: Kentwood Commercial brokers Connor Donahue, Todd Snyder, Zack Jenkins

Three Denver brokers are looking to help churches and religious groups get the most out of their holy land.

Kentwood Commercial, a division of Kentwood Real Estate, has formed a new team specializing in religious properties. Todd Snyder, a broker with the firm, said he believes it’s the only of its kind in Denver.

“I can’t stress enough that religious organizations don’t think of or operate their real estate like we in the ‘for profit’ community (brokers, developers, investors etc.) do,” Snyder said in an email. “Their real estate is there to serve a specific faith-based purpose for them. And we respect that perspective very much.” 

The other Kentwood brokers on the team are Connor Donahue and Zack Jenkins. 

Snyder, 46, joined the firm about four months ago, after a nine-year run with NAI Shames Makovsky. He said he’s been noticing a trend with religious institutions and their real estate.

“[It] became clear that many of these churches were struggling with their real estate and the real estate was basically too big for them,” he said.

Snyder estimates that religious institutions own 35 million square feet on over 15,000 acres along Colorado’s Front Range. And America is becoming more secular.

“The data that I’ve seen suggests that America is becoming less religious, so to speak,” Snyder said. “I think that’s all the more reason why people and developers and cities need to rethink how these properties are utilized. And so is it a dwindling supply? I suppose … There’s certainly churches and religious organizations that are growing, and we intend to be a part of that as well.”

Snyder, a CU Boulder alumnus, is originally from California but has been a commercial real estate broker in Colorado since moving to the state in 2006. He specializes mainly in Denver’s urban core, and has transacted everything from retail, office and multifamily properties, to land sales and industrial spaces. He’ll continue doing non-religious work as well.

Prior to forming the team, Snyder said he’d already helped churches transact over $15 million in sales and other real estate arrangements. A Denver church in Denver sold off its parking lot to a developer planning an apartment building. An Arvada congregation merged with another church and sold its property to a charter school for children with autism, dyslexia and ADHD. 

“It’s a much more involved process than just throwing a price to something and waiting for offers. It’s a different approach,” Snyder said, adding that there are also plenty of scenarios where churches remain onsite as a landlord, too. 

“It’s trying to help these organizations repurpose or rethink their real estate and if there is a path that works for them, then we will help them execute. If there is no path for them, and they decide the real estate is fine the way it is, status quo is good, then that’s great, too. We’re here to help them come to that conclusion,” Snyder added.

In recognizing the altruistic nature of faith-based groups, Snyder plans to donate part of his commission on these deals to a charity of his client’s choice.

“We help a lot of people in the for-profit side of the business make money, and that’s great, but after doing this for 22-plus years you want to start to give back in other ways,” Snyder said.

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