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Light Rail Spurs Growth Explosion In SE Suburbs


New transit infrastructure, especially the extension of the light rail system, is bringing a revolution of growth to South Denver and the Southeast Suburbs. That's what innovative companies and the Millennials who work for them want, according to the speakers at our 2nd annual Future of Southeast Suburban event.


First, some stats provided by our speakers: Denver South has about 45M SF of Class-A space, more than Downtown Denver. Over the next 20 years, the I-25 Corridor alone will create 75,000 to 100,000 jobs—a conservative estimate. That's because businesses and the Millennials who will be those workers will want to be here, as major parts of the market grow denser and become better connected to transit and more walkable.


Development in the Southeast is following jobs and transit, which will give local real estate long-term value, according to our speakers. In the last three years, tenants have been coming to the area, and expecting their employees to use the light rail system. The power of the light rail is real, in terms of driving office and residential development, and driving down the demand for parking.

Snapped: Holland Partner Group senior development director Scott Menefee, Prime West COO Jim Neenan, and Granite Properties managing director Stephanie Lawrence.


Site selection isn't what it used to be, the speakers also noted. It's harder now to lease unbuilt or even merely unfinished space than it was in previous cycles, which might be a function of the instant gratification that technology enables. As one panelist put it, "If they can't see, they don't want to know it." That's to the advantage of the spec office buildings now rising in the Southeast Suburbs.

Here's Stephanie Lawrence, Coventry Development Corp EVP Steve Mulhern, and Transwestern managing director Brad Cohen, who moderated.


Also speaking at the event were Denver South Economic Development Partnership CEO Mike Fitzgerald and Shea Properties EVP Peter Culshaw. Mike said that Denver's now an international focus as one of the 10 best places to do business in the US, and South Denver is one of the focuses of that interest in the market. Among other recent changes, Peter noted that many Millennials are living near light rail in the city, and reverse commuting to the suburbs, which no one would have anticipated even a few years ago.