At 28, Grace Harrison might be the youngest CEO in Colorado Springs — and there’s no doubt she’s one of the most energetic.
The Eaton, Colo., native started working as a teenager for the Keirnes Companies, a family-owned real estate development and management company — and she never looked back.
“We own and manage different properties up and down the Front Range,” she said. “I eventually came to Colorado Springs. I don’t think I’ll ever leave — I love it here.”
As Keirnes’ CEO, she has personally and directly initiated, managed and consummated commercial real estate acquisitions, dispositions and financings. She has also led an effort to renovate and reposition several properties within the Keirnes portfolio.
“The shopping center at Montebello has been my biggest and most demanding project,” she said. “During the last six years, I’ve worked on repositioning it as a lifestyle and community-centric location. We have a great variety of tenants now, and we’re about to open a brewery.”
Now called Peak Lifestyle Center, the shopping center’s tenants include Bicycle Village, Colorado Ski & Golf, The Farm, a CrossFit box and the Rage Salon and Spa, as well as a dry cleaner, an auto parts supplier and a Goodwill facility.
As part of that repositioning, Harrison started Peak Place Coffee House in 2013.
“I love coffee, and I wanted the neighborhood to have a gathering place that would bring people together,” she said. “We roast our own coffee, and supply it to some of the other cafés in town. We also serve beer and wine and food.”
Judging from scores of comments on Yelp! and other social media, Peak Place has met Harrison’s goals.
“This is my favorite place to study,” one customer wrote. “Best coffee and espresso in town. There’s no doubt about it. Truly, this place is a hidden treasure. There’s live music. They serve beer and wine including happy hour specials. Gluten free and paleo options. Always good music on. What else could you need?”
Harrison has also served on the Goodwill Board of Directors since 2014, and is now board secretary.
“Most board members spend a year getting acclimated before they understand the complexity of our company,” said Goodwill CEO Karla Grazier, “but not Grace. She jumped in immediately. I don’t think that I have ever met anyone in her generation that has more drive and vision, combined with heart.”
“Based on my 40 years of business experience,” said Bradley Keirnes, an owner of the Keirnes Company, “I can readily say that Grace Harrison possesses exceptional personal commitment and extraordinary entrepreneurial capacity and competence.”
“I’m just continuing to do what I’ve been doing,” said Harrison. “I’m a huge believer in support systems — if you don’t know something, find someone who will help you.”