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Downtown Denver’s Changing Rental Landscape

As another summer with bull run momentum in Denver real estate draws to an end, a new rental landscape has evolved and is elevating living in downtown. For the first time in many years, investor-owned condo units are facing significant pressure in leasing as competition grows among new mid-rise and high-rise apartments offering a superior fit and finish, amenities, flexible lease terms, and incentives to move-in. Neighborhoods leading the transformation of what were once some of Denver’s most desolate downtown areas just a couple decades ago are now the most attractive and vibrant neighborhoods and have become desirable locations for new residential growth.

With the release of several thousand new rental apartments hitting the market over the summer, renters have more options than ever before among the fancy new supply. Denver’s most notable new luxury high rises are attracting a myriad of affluent renters from across the state and the country. Towers II & III in the Country Club neighborhood, The Confluence in the Central Platte Valley neighborhood, and Union Denver in the Union Station neighborhood comprise some of the finest new rental apartment homes available in the downtown area. I had the opportunity to tour each of these impressive new towers this year, and they will no doubt be more attractive to renters than many of the condo rental high-rise options that exist today in Denver. Towers II & III are currently in lease-up phase, and the condo-quality property is comprised of twin 32-story towers offering 500+ studio, 1, and 2-bedroom apartment homes, each revealing magnificent views of downtown and the mountains. In addition to a convenient location between downtown and Cherry Creek, the property offers Concierge services and more amenities than almost any other property in Denver. In the Central Platte Valley stands The Confluence, a recently completed 34-story luxury high-rise towering over the nearby parks and attractions is also in lease-up phase. With some of the most spectacular views offered, The Confluence offers a fit and finish package with amenities superior to almost any other condo or apartment rental in Denver. In downtown’s Union Station neighborhood, Union Denver is delivering over 500 new apartments, comprised of three 10-story towers, anchored by a flagship Whole Foods occupying the street level space and scheduled to open in November this year. The property offers an ideal location for commuters who value access mass transit, a highly walkable neighborhood with everyday conveniences at your fingertips, and has many efficiency-sized apartments.

The pace and price escalation of residential rentals in the downtown market has slowed considerably this year, Denver’s RiNo, Central Platte Valley, and LoHi neighborhoods remain among the most sought-after for renters, and new residential development. I had the opportunity to attend the Downtown Denver Partnership’s Center City Housing presentation, which addressed the importance of housing to attract and retain an in-demand workforce. Below are some insights from the Downtown Denver Partnership report and forum:

  • Denver’s center city neighborhoods are home to 79,367 residents and 130,227 employees
  • Since 2010, the center city has added 15,877 new residents and 33,065 new jobs
  • Denver is the fourth fastest growing city in the U.S. and the demand to live in the center city is high, with the residential population tripling since 2000
  • Capitol Hill is the most populous center city neighborhood with a population of 17,142 residents, The Central Platte Valley neighborhood adjacent to Denver Union Station experienced the highest percentage of population growth since 2010 at 58 percent to total 6,609 residents, followed by the Ballpark neighborhood at 52 percent and the Central Business District at 39 percent.
  • The Central Platte Valley neighborhood also added the most new units since 2010, totaling 5,669 units completed or under construction, more than 3,800 more units than the next busiest neighborhood for development, River North.

Neighborhood growth throughout downtown Denver

*All stats, with exception of unemployment rate and rankings, refer to the center city boundary.

The considerable demand for affordable housing remains one downtown’s big challenges to overcome as the city’s needs for services grows. New ideas and programs are being implemented and offered to developers and owners in an effort to fill vacancies at market-rate and provide viable housing options for our city’s most vital workforce population. For the foreseeable future, private landlords (of luxury condos specifically) with inventory in the downtown area will experience longer gaps between leases and make drastic price reductions in an effort to draw renter attention in a saturated market and now entering the cyclically slower season of cooler months and holidays. Townhouses and single family homes with 3 or more proportionate sized bedrooms in the downtown area, offering pet-friendly flexibility, will continue to be in demand as this type of rental inventory remains scarce.




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