By John Rebchook
More than $1 billion in real estate investments were made in downtown Denver last year, with almost double that amount going forward this year, according to the Downtown Denver Partnership.
That was one of the findings of the Downtown Denver Partnership’s “State of Downtown Denver 2015” report that it released on Tuesday.
More than 450 business leaders attended the breakfast meeting, where the 28-page report was unveiled.
The annual report funded in part by the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District, provides “exciting evidence of continued development, strong demand for Downtown office space, growth in employment, residential growth and increased mobility options in downtown Denver,” according to the Partnership.
Tami Door, CEO and president of the Partnership said Denver has one of the strongest downtowns in the U.S.
“There is no question that Denver has one of the most successful downtowns in the nation,” Door said
“Our center city is economically strong and growing,” Door continued.
The numbers prove what many people are seeing when they live, work, play and visit downtown.
“This report provides a benchmark of our progress,” Door said.
Downtown’s success is no accident, she emphasized
“The state of Downtown Denver’s development is a direct result of long-time planning, visioning, commitment and collaboration.” Door said.
Door presented downtown highlights that included:
- Development: In 2014, it experienced more than $1 billion of development investment, including 482 hotel rooms, 1,148 residences, 275,000 square feet of office space and 170,000 square feet of retail. Meanwhile, 20 projects are under construction in 2015, with 15 more planned for development, representing more than $1.9 billion worth of investment.
- Office Market: Downtown has more than 35 million square feet of office space. Some 700,000 square feet of space was added in the past three years, and more than 2.4 million square feet of space is under construction or planned for development. The direct vacancy rate fell to 9.7 percent in the past year, down from over 12 percent a few years ago.
- Employees: More than 120,000 people work in downtown; employment is up 11 percent since 2010 and up 3 percent in the past year.
- Residents: Nearly 70,000 people live in downtown and its city center neighborhoods. The projected growth rate for downtown in the next five years is over four times the national rate.
- Retail and Restaurants: More than 1,000 retail establishments, representing over 3.3 million square feet of space, are found downtown.More than 75 retailers and restaurants opened in 2014 alone. Retail sales are on the rise, and retail vacancy is at 4.4 percent. Downtown Denver’s sales tax collections represent 9.7 percent of the City of Denver’s total sales tax collection.
- Students & Universities: More than 45,000 students attend public, not-for-profit higher education institutions in downtown, adding to the center city’s vibrancy and helping to create a 24/7 downtown.
- Mobility: More than 60 percent of downtown Denver employees use transit, walk, bike or ride shares to work. Commuting by bike into Downtown Denver has increased by 43 percent in the past year.
- Environment: Downtown Denver has 152 acres of parks and open space. Thirty-seven businesses in Downtown Denver are certified through the City of Denver’s Certifiably Green Denver Program.
- Tourism: Downtown is home to 27 hotels with more than 9,300 hotel rooms, representing almost 22 percent of the hotel rooms in the region. The Colorado Convention Center welcomed almost 920,000 visitors in 2014.
Brad Buchanan, executive director of Denver’s Department of Community Planning & Development, was one of the speakers at the event.
“We are getting downtown Denver ready for the next 20 to 30 years, while also focusing on real implementation needs,” Buchanan said.
“A number of development projects and plans are underway, like the central rail extension and the Arapahoe Square rezoning process,” Buchanan continued
“The Downtown Denver Partnership partners closely with the Hancock administration to ensure we are moving these plans forward in a way that benefits our city,” according to Buchanan.
Other speakers at the breakfast included:
- David Kenney, president and founder, The Kenney Group Inc.;
- John Moye, founding partner, Moye White;
- John Levisay, co-founder and CEO, Sympoz / Craftsy;
- And Amy Cara, partner, East West Partners.
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