Why Downtown?

As the heart of the entire Rocky Mountain region, Downtown Denver is a highly active center of economic, cultural, entertainment, educational and sports activities. Downtown Denver has much to offer any company – large or small, start-up or Fortune 500 – looking to locate or choosing to stay Downtown.

Downtown Denver has the right mix of commercial space for any need: a highly educated workforce, multimodal transportation options, competitive tax rates, a business-friendly environment and the amenities that make it a great place to retain employees. All of this makes Downtown Denver the best place in Colorado for access to a talented labor pool and for businesses to locate their offices.

If you’ve never considered Downtown Denver, now is the perfect time. If you’ve checked the city out before, it’s time to take another look. And if you’re already here, it’s the perfect time to extend your commitment. We invite you to keep reading and explore our Corporate Expansion and Relocation Guide to learn more.

State of Downtown Denver



Downtown Denver Offers a Central Location and Easy Access

Downtown Denver is the transportation hub for the entire metropolitan region and continues to advance transportation options for its residents, visitors, employees and employers. Such advancements include improvements to the U.S. 36 highway system leading into Downtown Denver, the 122-mile build out of FasTracks bus and rail systems, various streetscaping projects enhancing the pedestrian environment and increasing the amount of bicycle infrastructure in and around Downtown.

Approximately 50 transit-oriented developments are planned along eight different light rail and commuter rail lines as part of RTD’s FasTracks program extending in all directions from the center city, making Downtown Denver accessible to workers, residents, and visitors from every corner of the metro area. These investments in transportation choices are coming at an opportune time for Denver as the future workforce and baby boomers are looking for more transportation options in their daily lives.

Transportation Statistics

  • 60 percent of Downtown Denver employees use alternative modes of transportation, including transit, bicycling, walking, carpooling, vanpooling and telecommuting.
  • 53 percent of Downtown Denver commuters travel via active transportation (bicycling, walking, transit).
  • 57 bus routes and six light rail lines serve Downtown Denver.
  • 45,000 people boarded the 16th Street Mall FREE MallRide per day in 2012.
  • 13 million trips were made at Downtown Denver RTD light rail stations in 2011.
  • RTD’s most active light rail stations (in terms of boardings) are in Downtown Denver: Colfax at Auraria and the 16th Street Stations.
  • Nearly half of Downtown Denver commuters (44.6 percent) ride mass transit, compared to just 6.5 percent in the City and County of Denver and 5 percent in the United States.
  • Over 80 percent of Downtown Denver employees receive some type of transit pass from their employer.
  • When an employer pays for a transit pass, over half of the Downtown commuters surveyed will take transit to work (53 percent) and driving alone dips down to 32 percent. When employers do not offer the incentive of paying for a transit pass, 53 percent drive alone to work.

The Multimodal Transportation Hub for the Region

The RTD FasTracks Program is a multi-billion dollar comprehensive transit expansion plan to build 122 miles of new commuter rail and light rail, 18 miles of bus rapid transit, 21,000 new parking spaces at light rail and bus stations and enhanced bus service for easy, convenient bus/rail connections across the eight-county district all operating from Denver Union Station. Construction is underway for the 22.8 mile East Corridor commuter rail line that, when completed in 2016, will connect Downtown Denver to Denver International Airport (DIA). The 12.1 mile West Corridor light rail line, which is the first completed component of the FasTracks Program that connects Downtown Denver to the Jefferson County Government Center in Golden, Colorado, opened in April 2013.
Over the next several years, Denver Union Station will be transformed into a mixed-use development that will serve as the multimodal transportation hub for the entire region. In 2011, the 16th Street Mall shuttle was extended and a new light rail station was completed. All remaining infrastructure components are scheduled to be completed in 2014. The historic station is in the process of being converted into a 110-room boutique hotel, and two of the five private office projects will open at the end of 2013, bringing 200,000 square feet of new office space to Downtown.


The Company You Keep

Downtown Denver is the employment hub of the city, region and state, with 115,020 employees, making up approximately one-third of all the jobs in the City and County of Denver, while constituting less than 1 percent of the City and County of Denver’s land mass. Downtown Denver employment numbers are up 2.4 percent in the past year and up 5 percent since 2010. The largest employment sectors in Downtown Denver are professional and business services (34,792), government (23,087), leisure and hospitality (17,303) and financial activities (14,225).

Downtown Denver is home to several Fortune 500 companies, including Wells Fargo, CenturyLink and DaVita, and it is becoming an increasingly attractive place for companies looking to relocate. Companies such as Jacobs Engineering and SendGrid have relocated to or added offices in Downtown Denver in the past year. In August 2012, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced that it had decided to locate a new regional office in Downtown Denver. Downtown Denver is also home to many energy companies, as well as the emerging high tech industries.

Spotlight: Startups and High Tech

Due in part to its high quality of life, engaged community and startup events, Downtown Denver is quickly becoming a magnet for web developers, high tech companies, small businesses and entrepreneurs. ReadyTalk, an audio and web-conferencing company occupying 47,000 square feet on two floors at 1900 16th Street, was named 2012’s Best Place to Work in the United States by Outside Magazine. ReadyTalk has established a culture that centers on creating an environment that fosters collaboration with employees and customers. It does this by offering weekly yoga in the office, office bikes, a Nintendo Wii (with Guitar Hero) and free RTD Eco Passes, an all-inclusive transit pass offered to employers.


“Our young staff enjoys the amenities that come with being in Downtown Denver.”
– Dan King, CEO, ReadyTalk


Creating a place where people want to live and connect with each other will attract talent, which will in turn attract companies. In the first half of 2012, Downtown Denver hosted a variety of tech events, including the International Drupal conference, the Denver i4c Campaign, the Colorado Code for Communities Hackathon, the Denver Business Technology Exposition, monthly Startup Colorado meetings and monthly High-Tech meetup.com meetings.

High Quality Space and Infrastructure

The last two years have brought an influx of new and expanding tenants to Downtown Denver, including Bridgepoint Education, HealthGrades, DaVita, Jacobs Engineering, AON, Suncor Energy, Intrawest, Pentax Imaging and Hub International. The highly desirable dynamics of Downtown Denver will continue to draw tenants from other submarkets, and many of the Commercial Core’s large tenants particularly in the law, business services, engineering and oil and gas sectors, are in a growth mode.

Illustrating this commitment to the Downtown Denver office market, Brookfield Office Properties bought 1801 California for 5 million in December 2011 and has committed to investing million in improvements to transform the building. Renovations will include improvements to the plaza on 18th Street and California Street, a new ground floor conference center and installation of glass to open up the lobby.

Downtown Denver’s Office Market Highlights

  • 27.1 million square feet of office space.
  • 13.8 percent office vacancy rate (down from 16.04 percent in year-over-year comparisons) in leased buildings, compared to an 17 percent office vacancy rate of the region’s suburban office market and to higher vacancy rates in other downtowns across the United States.
  • 26.50 per square foot direct median asking rate compared to Metro Denver’s direct median asking rate of 20.55 per square foot.
  • 175,000 square feet of positive net absorption in 2012.
    Recent Office Market Transactions:
  • Beacon Capital Partners purchased 1700 Lincoln Street for .5 million. The 1.2 million-square-foot “Cash Register” building is one of the icons of the Downtown Denver skyline.
  • Beacon Capital Partners acquired a 98 percent interest in a three-building 1.6 million square-foot portfolio, made up of 410 17th Street, 600 17th Street and 1560 Broadway, for million.
  • Brookfield Properties purchased 1801 California for 5 million with plans to create a transformative multitenant building.

Outstanding Amenities

Downtown Denver offers outstanding amenities that cannot be found anywhere else in the region. Downtown Denver has over 1,000 retail establishments and restaurants offering a wide variety of dining and shopping options. With the FREE MallRide along the 16th Street Mall, all of Downtown is easily accessible whether you are running an errand, entertaining clients or grabbing a quick bite for lunch. Also unique to Downtown are its cultural facilities and world class sports venues.

Spotlight: World-Class Cultural Amenities Pick Denver

Downtown Denver hosted the opening of two new museums in the last 12 months, the History Colorado Center and the Clyfford Still Museum. The Clyfford Still Museum, located adjacent to the Denver Art Museum, opened in November 2011 and hosts a collection of approximately 2,400 paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures, from the late Clyfford Still, a mid-century abstract expressionist artist. As the majority of these pieces have never been on public display before, a visit to the museum provides an unprecedented opportunity to reflect on the full scope of Still’s legacy and his profound influence on American art. Just a few blocks away, the History Colorado Center opened its doors shortly after the Clyfford Still Museum in spring 2012. The History Colorado Center allows History Colorado, a 132-year-old state agency, to continue creatively engaging Coloradans locally and across the state in discovering, preserving and taking pride in its places of architectural, archaeological and historical significance through museum exhibitions, public programs and educational services.

In addition to Downtown Denver’s cultural facilities, Downtown Denver also hosts over 200 games at three major sports facilities: the Pepsi Center, Coors Field and Sports Authority Stadium at Mile High. Downtown Denver is home to six professional sports teams: Denver Broncos, Colorado Rockies, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Mammoth and the Denver Outlaws. In addition to professional sports, Downtown Denver played host to several high profile sporting events in the last 12 months, including the USA ProCycling Challenge and the NCAA Women’s Final Four.

Highly Educated Workforce

Denver, with its amenities, highly educated population, transportation options and attractive urban center, is the No. 1 city in the U.S. where the future workforce (ages 25-34) is moving. Fifty-eight percent of Downtown residents or 6 out of 10 have a bachelor’s degree or higher, which one of the most educated populations in the country. This is compared to the national average of three out of ten. Downtown Denver is home to 42,097 students in public, not-for-profit institutions of higher education, as well as over 13,000 students at various trade schools and private, for-profit, institutions that have offices or classroom space in Downtown Denver. An educated population stimulates the culture of Downtown. The Brookings Institution noted that the young, emerging workforce is choosing to locate in highly educated areas, where “young people can feel connected and have attachments to colleges or universities among highly educated residents.” This culture of higher education is exemplified by Downtown Denver’s residential population, 58.5 percent of whom have bachelor’s degrees or higher, compared to 45 percent in downtown Seattle and 46 percent in downtown Washington, D.C. Learn about educational opportunities.

Housing Options

Denver is the No. 1 city in the nation in attracting 25–34-year-olds. CEOs for Cities recently reported that the population of 25–34-year-olds with a four-year degree in the City Center neighborhoods grew 25 percent, while this population decreased by 1 percent in the rest of the region during the past 10 years. Almost a quarter (22 percent) of the City Center’s residents are 25–34 years old. Denver’s top five walkable neighborhoods are all in Downtown Denver or its surrounding neighborhoods, with the Central Business District ranked as the No. 1 most walkable neighborhood in Denver. Not surprisingly, 25 percent of Downtown Denver residents do not own a vehicle.

Responding to the recent demand for housing in walkable urban environments, Downtown Denver developers are taking steps to provide an adequate housing stock. Recent projects have included The Line 28 at LoHi, Solera, 777 Emerson Lofts and Renaissance Uptown Lofts. The Solera, a LEED-Gold Certified multi-family, mixed-use building was 92 percent leased by October 2011 and sold for the highest per unit sales price in Colorado history.

Nearly a quarter of the 25 projects either under construction or planned in Downtown as of April 2013 had more than 300 units. As of the second quarter 2013, there were just over 7,000 multi-family rental units under construction in several City Center neighborhoods. Near Denver Union Station, several apartment projects are under construction, including Cadence, 1990 Chestnut, 1650 Wewatta and Alta City House. Learn about the many housing options in Downtown Denver.

Residential Statistics

  • The residential population of Downtown Denver has grown 86 percent from 2000 to 2012. This reflects a 35 percent increase in growth over the last year in Downtown Denver.
  • The City Center population (neighborhoods within a 1.5-mile radius of Downtown Denver) grew 22 percent between 2000 and 2012 and has stayed relatively stable over the past year. The City Center population is projected to reach 73,877 by 2018.
  • Over the last 12 years, the number of Downtown Denver households increased by 110 percent and the City Center households grew by 32 percent.

A Clean and Safe Environment

The Downtown Denver Business Improvement District (BID) represents 385 Downtown commercial property owners who invest in the vitality of Downtown Denver by funding, cleaning and maintenance services, safety initiatives and economic development and marketing programs.

The BID is a public organization funded by private commercial property owners. The BID strives to provide a clean, safe and vibrant Downtown Denver environment for workers, residents and visitors. The BID boasts 856 properties and 385 property owners within the 120-block area of the district and maintains the 16th Street Mall and enhances basic city services through its district-wide funding.

The BID’s boundaries extend from Speer Boulevard to 20th Street and from Wewatta Street to Grant Street. By annual assessments paid to this quasi-governmental entity, BID property owners fund a series of district-wide programs that are critical to the vibrancy of our urban center and enhance Downtown Denver. Through maintenance and operations, safety initiatives, economic development, pedestrian environment enhancements, targeted visitor marketing and communications, as well as holiday events, lighting and décor that attract thousands of visitors, the BID continues to ensure that Downtown Denver is a world-class destination with something for everyone. Learn more about the BID’s clean and safe initiatives.