Colorado’s Retail Sector Reemerges Amid Strong Market Signs
By Stuart Zall, President, The Zall Company
No matter how you look at it, Colorado is in a great position for strong post-pandemic recovery and growth. People are moving here from around the country at historic numbers. With low interest rates and an influx of buyers prepared to pay well over asking prices, the residential real estate market is experiencing unprecedented activity, and we expect the commercial market to follow suit.
Now that the vaccine has created less concern about COVID-19, people are getting out again and we’re seeing a lot of pent-up demand as businesses reopen, eateries expand capacity and restrictions on crowd size are lifted.
Downtown Denver Takes Action To Lure People Back
Within the Front Range retail market, downtown Denver took the biggest pandemic hit by far. Prior to 2020, downtown served a population of more than 150,000 daytime workers, the convention center was booked for years out, bringing thousands of conventioneers from all over the country, and sports and tourist venues like Elitch Gardens attracted huge crowds.
Now the city is working hard to bring back workers. The Downtown Denver Partnership recently launched the Denver’s Ready campaign to encourage employers and employees to return to in-person work. Enticements include extension of patio dining through October 2022, convenient vaccination and testing sites, and enhanced cleaning procedures on RTD shuttles and buses.
Retailers, Restaurants Join Unconventional Neighbors
Some notable projects in the metro area include the mixed-use Market Street Station, where the new Thule store will open in June, and Studebaker Lofts, which recently leased to Zoom Care Medical and has lots of activity on the remaining space. Continuum’s 16 Market Square, which lost several tenants during the pandemic, now has a lease from a financial institution and several quick-service restaurants. We’re also seeing extensive new development in submarkets like RiNo, Lo Hi and Highlands, including apartments, smaller shops, eateries and big box retailers.
Occupancy in Cherry Creek is also at an all-time high, with few vacancies remaining. Recent deals include Nike, Elements, Tecovas boots, Forget Me Not restaurant and the new Polestar electric vehicle showroom.
The Colorado Boulevard corridor has benefited from the influx of new people, and 9+CO at 9th and Colorado has a new AMC Theater, Postino restaurant, Hopdoddy Burger Bar, the Joint Chiropractic and others.
To the west, Colorado Mills in Golden is also seeing an uptick in activity. The mall recently leased the former 25,000-square-foot Saks Off Fifth space to Rodz and Bodz Movie Cars and More Museum.
While the book isn’t written yet on exactly how things will unfold in the months to come, all signs point to a recovery for Colorado’s Front Range that we hope will ultimately add more business than the pandemic took away.