Economic Indicators Showcase Thriving Economy in Downtown Denver
The Downtown Denver Partnership released an Economic Trend Report at its Annual Economic Forecast Forum, sponsored by Bank of America.
The Partnership’s place-based economic development strategy creates a place where people want to live and work, leading to strong economic growth and a dynamic energy. Population and employment growth in Downtown Denver continue to be some of the strongest in the country, contributing to a vibrant local economy. Over the past five years, all major indicators of a thriving economy have improved.
The most impressive gains have been in the hotel market, where occupancy is up 5 percent and the average daily room rate has increased 20 percent. Perhaps most significant, the average revenue per available room (REVPAR) has increased by 26 percent. These increases indicate that the more than 30 hotels in Downtown Denver are experiencing success and that the center city is a must-visit destination in the region.
Additionally, retail sales tax collections have increased nearly 30 percent over the past five years. However, despite this increase, the retail market – measured by vacancy and lease rates – has remained essentially flat due to the leasing of new ground floor retail space being delivered throughout the center city. Notable recent additions to the Downtown retail market recently include the first-to-market Uniqlo which opened in October 2016 and we are looking forward to the opening of a Whole Foods flagship store later this year. This growth highlights the success of our place-based economic development strategy that is creating a place where people want to live and work.
The number of employees working in our center city has grown nearly 8 percent in the past five years to more than 126,000 people as of mid-2016. Downtown’s office market fundamentals are also strong; office vacancy rates have decreased 19 percent, and the direct average lease rate has increased 23%. This is noteworthy especially when you consider that well over 1 million square feet of office space has been added during this time.
Finally, it’s significant to note that the total number of homes sold in Downtown Denver has remained essentially flat in the past five years, despite population growth. This trend is attributable to the lack of condo development and highlights the need for construction defects legislation at a state level to support for-sale housing development in the center city.
All of these indicators showcase the Partnership’s success in several areas as we implement strategies to support an economically healthy and vital Downtown Denver.