With its unparalled natural and built environment, Denver offers a strong housing market, enviable lifestyle options, one of the fastest-growing economies in the country and award-winning multimodal transportation that attracts employers and employees to this place.
Founded in 1858 at the confluence of the Platte River and Cherry Creek, Denver is Colorado’s capitol city and home to nearly 650,000 today. Today the “Queen City of the Plains” is the nation’s 22nd largest city, encompassing 156 square miles.
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Denver prizes its diverse economy both for its robust growth but also as an increasingly significant bulwark against the historic "boom and bust" patterns. Our major industry clusters are aerospace, broadcast and telecommunications, healthcare & wellness, financial services, bioscience, energy, and IT-software. We generally follow the national trend of our fastest-growing sector being healthcare, although it is other sectors, namely high tech and energy, that more accurately define Denver's enviable edge. For example, in April 2015, announcing its expansion to new offices in downtown Denver, Comcast cited that Denver offers one of the nation's largest clusters of the internet and telecommunications services industry.
The energy sector is tremendously important to Denver's economy. Over the last eight decades, Denver has established itself as a key player in the energy industry, especially as the shale boom hit our region. Energy has been central to Denver’s economy for the past 80-plus years and today is an integral part of our economic landscape. Oil production is at a 50-year high in Colorado; oil and gas directly employs over 50,000 workers statewide, and supports 111,000 men and women and their families. And fossil fuels job growth in the metro region is strong, including a five-year job growth of 29%.The energy industry trade publication Rigzone has ranked Denver as the #3 city in the world for oil and gas--the only cities to beat Denver were Calgary and Dubai.
Meanwhile, our clean tech industry here is strong and getting stronger by the month. Together, metropolitan Denver and the Northern Colorado corridor currently rank sixth in the country for its concentration of cleantech employment. Our employment in cleantech in this region is 18,800 jobs, with an average wage of $80,000. The rate of job growth in cleantech here has exceeded 22% over the past five years. This part of the country enjoys a reputation for being socially conscious and environmentally-minded, for respecting our natural environment, and actively defending our natural resources.
Statewide, important components of our economy also include agriculture and tourism.
Not to be overlooked, Denver also relishes its reputation as the Creative Capital of the West. Colorado ranks sixth in the nation for its creative industry employment; Denver's local, fertile climate for creative enterprises and creative workers is supported by our ecosystem of entrepreneurs, arts and cultural nonprofits, and media and entertainment companies. This measure of employment encompasses every kind of musical artistry along with visual artists, photographers, architects, writers, entertainers and performers.
Home ownership in Denver's nearly 300,000 households is right at 50%, and home values are rising at a rate surpassing virtually all the country. Our average home price is currently $325,000 in the City and County of Denver, and $402,500 in the Denver metro area.
Denver has officially joined the ranks of high-cost cities for rental and for-sale housing. The irony of a booming population and thriving economy is that concern grows over the number of local households spending more than 30% for rent/mortgage, along with a dearth of available units across a range of prices. Strong home values are a gift to the Denver residents who are homeowners, of course, but can further threaten the opportunities for ownership by renters.
Average monthly apartment rents in 3Q 2014 in Denver included $1,020 for 1 bedroom and $1,451 for a 2 bed/2 bath unit. Metro area rates were slightly lower.
Such are the challenges that can be anticipated and addressed in the “smart growth” approach which public, private and nonprofit leaders in Denver and Colorado have been committed to for the past 25 years. In Fall 2014, Denver released an ambitious, five-year strategic plan to improve its affordable housing, a strategy relying on stronger cross-sector partnerships and a goal of developing, rehabbing, and/or preserving at least 3,000 units by 2018.
Denver’s median household income is $50,313 and the per capita personal income here is $56,967.
Denver’s booming downtown serves as the nexus of the entire Rocky Mountain region. More than $1 billion in public and private sector projects have opened downtown in the past two years, anchored by the visionary redevelopment of Denver Union Station—an innovative transportation, commercial and cultural hub connecting the entire metro region with the heart of the city.
Now in its 30th year, the 16th Street Mall is a mixed-use pedestrian and transit corridor that is a major tourist attraction in its own right.
According to the Downtown Denver Partnership, Denver's urban core civic/business association, in a 2015 update:
Development: In 2014, Downtown Denver received over $1 billion of development investment, including 482 hotel rooms, 1,148 residences, 275,000 sq ft of office space and 170,000 sq ft of retail. Looking forward, 20 projects are under construction in 2015, with 15 more planned for development, representing over $1.9 billion worth of investment.
Office Market: Downtown Denver has over 35 million sq ft of office space. 700,000 sq ft of space was added in the past three years, and over 2.4 million square feet of space is under construction or planned for development. The direct vacancy rate fell to 9.7% in the past year, down from over 12% a few years ago.
Employees: More than 120,000 people work in Downtown Denver; employment is up 11% since 2010 and up 3% in the past year.
Residents: Nearly 70,000 people live in Downtown Denver and its City Center neighborhoods. The projected growth rate for Downtown Denver in the next five years is over four times the national rate.
Retail & Restaurants: Over 1,000 retail establishments, representing over 3.3 million sq ft of space, are located downtown. More than 75 retailers and restaurants opened in 2014 alone. Retail sales downtown are on the rise, and retail vacancy is at a low 4.4%. Downtown Denver’s sales tax collections represent 9.7% of Denver’s total sales tax collection.
Students & Universities: Over 45,000 students attend public, not-for-profit higher education institutions downtown, adding to the Center City’s vibrancy and helping to create a 24/7 urban core.
Mobility: More than 60% of Downtown Denver employees use transit, walk, bike or ride shares to work. Commuting by bike into Downtown Denver has increased by 43% in the past year.
Environment: Downtown Denver has 152 acres of parks and open space. Nearly 40 businesses in downtown are certified through the City of Denver’s Certifiably Green Denver Program.
Tourism: Downtown Denver is home to 27 hotels with over 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.
Subsectors within downtown include the Theatre District along 14th Street, Larimer Square, Lower Downtown (LoDo), and the Platte River Valley.
Development opportunities are rising in Denver’s emerging corridors, poised to deliver the highest rates of growth in the near term.
Welton Street: One of Denver’s oldest and most culturally vibrant neighborhoods is blooming with new commercial and residential development and public/private investment. Its proximity to downtown, excellent transit and cool vibe are surging it up the list of Denver’s desired places to live and thrive. OED is only one of a number of funders pumping pre-development and project dollars into the neighborhood, which is shifting rapidly while we work to ensure that its rich cultural history is maintained and celebrated. Learn more here.
Brighton Boulevard: This is the inner launching point of Mayor Hancock’s “Corridor of Opportunity,” a 23-mile ribbon of current activity and exciting potential leading from downtown to DIA. This area to the north and east of the city represents the greatest concentration of undeveloped land in Denver. Already a red-hot spot at its downtown end with the boom of commercial growth in RiNo, the corridor is primed for development when the East Line commuter-rail line opens in 2016, connecting nine stations and the booming commercial and residential areas of Stapleton and Gateway. Learn more here.
River North / South Platte Riverway: This emerging community, as known as RiNo, is home to a remarkable mix of creative businesses and artisans. Over the past decade it has quietly been building interest among Denver's creative class for its authentic, industrial feel and eclectic combination of old warehouses, rail yards and new mixed-use developments, making it one of Denver's most unique places to live, work and play. Meanwhile, one of the presently under-utilized assets in the region is the last segment of the South Platte River that has yet to be reclaimed. It stretches for 12 miles through Denver, and our vision includes a mix of retail, residential, hotel, industrial and office real estate to maximize the exciting potential of 24 miles of waterfront. Learn more here.
National Western Center: Celebrating its 109th year, the National Western Stock Show represents Colorado's largest agricultural convention, bringing more than 600,000 visitors annually. To secure the future of the NWSS, a bold new master plan has been developed to transform the 130-acre complex into a 270-acre campus. The plan is an ambitious partnership between the City of Denver, Colorado State University, History Colorado, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and the National Western Stock Show Association. Learn more here.
Cherry Creek North: Already an admired jewel in retail in the Western U.S. and a top-flight residential address, Cherry Creek North is in the midst of its biggest construction boom in decades, bringing new apartments, condos, commercial space, retail, and a new hotel. Denver has received an unprecedented number of requests for building permits in Cherry Creek since the recession ended. Its resident population is about to increase significantly, and planners have completed a new area plan, thanks to CCN's legendary Business Improvement District. The unanimous approval by Denver City Council in 2014 of new zoning that will enhance mixed-use development progress came on the heels of the 2013 sales taxes in Cherry Creek North growing by 9.2%, compared to a 7.5% increase across all of Denver. Learn more here.