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“Will Downtown Denver Ever Fully Recover from Covid?”

The Denver Post had this great article over the weekend about Downtown Denver and where it stands 2 years after Covid hit. Here is a summary—

· The week before Covid saw 328k spend time on the 16th Street Mall and that number plummeted to 49k by the end of March. From March 12th to the 18th the 16th Street Mall saw an average of 197k people walking on the mall, which is still down by 40% from 2 years; but improving.

· The number of area employees walking the 16th Street Mall is still down by 80% though which is keeping stores and restaurants from returning.

· Downtown Denver’s office vacancy rate at the end of 2021 was 14.4%, but 24% of office space was officially vacant when you factor in the sublease market.

· Tracy Hadden Loh a fellow with the Brookings Institution who has studied large downtown urban cities says “I don’t have long-term concerns about that relatively high vacancy rate because new demand will absorb that vacancy,” about the downtown Denver market. But, this rebound will be measured in years, not months.

· Downtown Denver hotels saw 49% of their rooms booked this January and February, up from just 30% last year. If I remember correctly this percentage was over 75% before Covid.

· The 16th Street Mall is going through a major overhaul beginning this spring that will help long-term; but will hurt foot traffic during the construction period.

· The biggest problem that will haunt downtown Denver according to the story is the perception that there is rampant crime downtown and downtown Denver is not safe. Second, is the homeless population will return in greater numbers this spring and summer with more public drug use and more crime.