A Denver Dynamo. Amy Harmon — referred to as one of Denver’s “movers and shakers” — stands out as a role model for young women who have lofty goals and are determined to reach them. In that context, Harmon, 30, has advice for young women just starting out in the business world: “Do something that scares (challenges) you every day. Be as fair and honest to yourself as you are to others around you. Trust your gut, and remember that you are always a part of a team — even if it isn’t immediately apparent who’s on your team. “Identify role models — learn about people who have impressed you, and use their lessons and wisdom for your growth. Keep your ego out of the picture as much as possible. Generally speaking, it really is never about you.
“The world is wide open for women these days — we have many women and men to acknowledge for the efforts made toward this end. It is my belief that more than ever there is an inherent responsibility as a businesswoman to honor this legacy and to strive for excellence in your work. The doors are wide open for you.” Gleaning this insight from her own experience, she has been a business partner since 1999 for Urban Market Development, an integral participant in Denver’s urban renewal effort specializing in retail, office and residential projects. She is firmly committed to and loves her hometown of Denver, and this passion is what connects her to both work and community commitments. This energetic dynamo grew up in the city, went to Denver public schools (Bromwell and Morey), then attended an all-girls’ boarding school, Oldfields, in Glencoe, Md. She later transferred to Brooks in Andover, Mass. During her high school years she was an exchange student in Kenya, an experience that had a dramatic impact on her passions and her worldview. From high school, she attended the University of Texas, Austin, and was graduated from the Plan II Honors Program. Her first job was with Rolling Stone magazine in New York City. “This is an example in my own personal experience of doing something that challenged me and then being rewarded,” she says. “I moved to New York without a job but with the goal of working for a magazine. When I set this goal, I had no comprehension of the networking and job-searching dynamics of New York City. It was a great lesson in networking and turning the networking into opportunity. It was an exciting job to have right out of college, for the magazine is an icon and I felt very proud to be a part of their team.”
Harmon believes that because of the extreme contrasts in her experiences, both geographically and socio-economically, she learned to value diverse views and opinions, which has prepared her for many of the everyday challenges of real estate development. Her business partner, Steve Owen, with extensive experience in real estate development, sales management and asset management, has encouraged her and given her the latitude to grow. Dr. Lisa Van BramerTogether Harmon and Owen have developed more than 500 apartments, developed and sold more than 300 residential condominiums totaling $150 million in sales and developed and managed more than 600,000 square feet of office and retail space. The company has completed projects ranging from the high-end residential developments One Polo Creek and No. 25 Downing to the more traditional downtown loft projects of the Streetcar Stables, Stadium and Ice House lofts. After being licensed as a real estate broker in Colorado, Harmon began her UMD career with the Ice House Lofts Development Project. She then managed 29 of 58 custom condominium units at One Polo Creek and served as owner’s representative for 25 Downing and 2399 Blake Street, managing the construction, sales and architectural entitlement process, which included the rezoning of a development pad on the Blake property. Today Harmon is a partner and managing member of Park Avenue LLC, which owns the development pad located at 1601 Park Avenue West and the office building at 2399 Blake Street that includes 70,000 square feet of multi-tenant office space one block north of Coors Field. Construction is scheduled to be completed in March for 450 17th, another mixed-use project in which Harmon is partner and development manager, located just east of the Central Business District on 17th and Pennsylvania.
In addition, UMD is marketing 1490 Delgany, a mixed-use retail, office and residential project to be built across the street from the new Museum of Contemporary Art. This project is scheduled to begin construction in the first quarter of 2006. Harmon begins her day when her “fabulous” black Russian terrier, Tito, wakes her at about 5:30 or 6 a.m. for a morning walk. She tries to get to the office between 7 and 7:30, before the rest of the crew arrives, and, she says, “The day takes on a life of its own. The nature of my business is broken down into projects, and each day has its own major project. “Mondays we try to focus on internal items, project the week’s work load and determine responsibilities and priorities. The rest of the week consists of meetings for different projects, sometimes in our office, sometimes on our job sites, sometimes in our clients’ offices or homes,” she explains. Her workday ends between 5 and 6 p.m., when she arrives home to take Tito for another walk. During the week, she will have a quiet dinner at home, go out with her many friends and extended family or attend a meeting. She still makes time for a workout twice a week and a movie whenever she can fit it in.
Because of her experience in urban redevelopment she was recently appointed to the Mayor’s Urban Council to serve on the Development Review and Permitting Advisory Committee that will endeavor to streamline the process for getting projects off the ground in downtown Denver. As for her community commitments, she is an avid supporter of PAVE — Promoting Alternatives to Violence through Education. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to empowering those who are caught up in, but want to end, the cycle of violence in their lives. Relationship violence can be emotional, sexual or physical violence experienced within a family or interpersonal relations. PAVE’s goal is to stop the generational cycle of this violence by teaching youth positive social skills and counseling children and youth who have experienced such violence. For a number of years, Harmon has helped organize the annual PAVE fund-raising event to award scholarships of $2,000 to $5,000 to high school graduates. As she explains, “This is a lot of money — a great deal of support for those kids.” Harmon also supports and helps organize the annual fund-raising events for Sportswomen of Colorado, including the 32nd annual Sportswomen of Colorado Awards Banquet on March 12 at the Marriott Tech Center. Sportswomen of Colorado is recognized as the first community-based organization in the nation to solely honor female athletes, celebrate their achievements and recognize those whose efforts have advanced girls’ and women’s individual and team sports.
Dr. Lisa Van BramerWith so many commitments, does Harmon have any time for herself? It seems she has that under control, too. “Believe it or not, I do have many personal activities that I cherish. In summer I love to golf, rollerblade and mountain bike; in winter my favorite sport comes into play, and I ski as often as possible. “I am fortunate to have many family and friends who live both within and outside of Colorado. I make a real effort to stay in touch with them and find that visiting those friends out of state is a terrific recharge and grounding mechanism for me. I am able to do this on a fairly regular basis for a quick weekend to Texas, New York or Aspen — all places that have strong connections for me personally and are home to some of my best friends and my family.” And as to Harmon’s future? “I have been fortunate to have very strong role models and mentors. My future goals are to continue to build my business and encourage new people in my field in the same fashion that I experienced from others when I was new in the business.”
By SHIRLEY JOHNSON
Photography RICK HEITMEN