DENVER — Earlier this week the Downtown Denver Partnership released its 2018 State of Downtown Denver report. The annual report, funded in part by the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District, is one of the most comprehensive statistical looks at the stories and statistics behind a thriving center city, detailing increasing investment, strong office market fundamentals, a growing and highly-educated workforce and vibrant residential population in downtown Denver.
A breakfast attended by 650 business and civic leaders and sponsored by Husch Blackwell, Tami Door, President and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership, highlighted the impact of place-based economic development efforts to meet the vision outlined in the 2007 Downtown Area Plan, the long-term strategy for downtown, and shared how the results of these are driving the economic strength and vitality of the center city.
Development and Investment
With a vision for the future, developers are responding to increased demand for residential, office and hotel product propelled by strong population and job growth. Thirty-five total projects are under construction or planned, representing $2.3 billion in investment that will add more than 700 hotel rooms, 4,500 residential units and nearly 3 million square feet of office space. This development, along with projects completed over the past 18 months, translates to capacity for 7,700 residents, 13,400 employees and nearly 680,000 new visitor nights.
Office Market and Employers
An increasing number of companies are locating in Downtown Denver, indicative of its reputation as one of the best places in the country to start and grow a business. Fifteen major companies relocated or opened a new office in the center city over the past year. As a growing hub of technology and innovation, most of these relocations and expansions were in the technology sector, which now employs 10,000 people in Downtown Denver—a 74 percent increase since 2010.
Downtown Denver’s highly educated and in-demand workforce is growing to support the center city as an epicenter of business and innovation. Downtown Denver’s workforce of over 130,000 people grew at a rate of 20 percent since 2010. Denver’s unemployment rate remains one of the lowest in the country, at 2.8 percent.
Attracted to vibrant walkable districts and high-quality residential amenities, more and more people – more than 80,000 – are choosing to live in downtown Denver and its center city neighborhoods. Population in the downtown core has tripled since 2000. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Denver is $1,734 and the average cost of a for-sale home is $583,000. The Partnership stressed the importance of advocating for additional affordable housing to address the growing market demands.
Retail and Restaurants
Downtown’s residential renaissance, alongside its growing employee base, is encouraging new retail development, including first-to-market and new-to-Downtown options that create a diverse retail scene. Whole Foods and Sephora opened Downtown in 2017, and Target is scheduled to open on the 16th Street Mall in July. Retail sales tax collections in Downtown Denver have increased over 60 percent since 2010 to total $55 million in 2017. Retail sales tax collection is anchored by restaurants, which make up 43 percent of the revenue.
A robust mobility network enhances options for all Downtown users, connecting to surrounding neighborhoods and strengthening economic development opportunities. In 2017, 40 percent of commuters drove alone, with the same number using transit, and an increasing number are walking or biking to work. Comprehensive details about commuting trends is available in the Downtown Denver Mobility Report (released April 2018).
Tourism and Attractions
Downtown Denver is a world-class destination at the center of the metro areas record-setting tourism industry which welcomed 17.3 million overnight visitors who spent $5 billion. Downtown’s 38 hotels with 10,300 rooms and more than 500,000 square feet of meeting space have seen strong growth, Average Daily Room Rate up 17 percent, and occupancy up 8 percent over the past five years.
Public Space and Activation
Downtown Denver has 152 acres of parks and open spaces, including commons Park (20 acres), Civic Center Park (12.5 acres), and Skyline Park (3.2 acres). The Downtown Denver Partnership is nearing completion of the conceptual design for the 5280 Loop, a new and distinctly Denver amenity that will connect many vibrant and diverse center city neighborhoods through the great urban outdoors, creating a powerful sense of place.