Southeast Suburbs Drawing Workers And Employers
Large employers are drawn to locations that have a high concentration of workers, which is keeping Denver's southeast suburban commercial real estate market strong.
With housing costs escalating in Denver’s central neighborhoods, more people are moving to the southeast suburbs, making the area an attractive prospect for all types of development, according to panelists at Bisnow’s Future of Southeast Suburban Denver event Wednesday at the Lone Tree Arts Center.
But for any type of development to be successful, it is critical that there are nearby amenities that workers can walk to.
When Western Union Co. — Colorado’s eighth-largest business by revenue — was looking for space for its new headquarters, its criteria included the ability to recruit and retain millennial workers, Prime West Chief Operating Officer Jim Neenan said. Western Union elected to lease 246,500 SF at One Belleview Station, a 318K SF office building at 7001 East Belleview Ave.
“Their employee base, as with many companies, is getting older,” said Neenan, who was on Bisnow’s Major Projects: The Expansion of the Southeast panel. “Baby boomers are starting to retire and create gaps in their employment mix. They needed walkable amenities, close proximity to retail and light rail and major transportation hubs. If the new buildings aren’t designed around those parameters, they’re not going to fill up.”
The same holds true for industrial developments, Central Development principal Jeremy Records said. Manufacturers rely on their teams of employees to all be working at once, so if employees have to spend 15 minutes driving to lunch, productivity declines.
“Retail amenities are key so you can keep your employees working rather than having to drive too far,” said Records, who is developing a 150K SF industrial building in the southeast suburban market.
Crescent Real Estate Senior Vice President Rob Mackenzie is betting that large employers and quality retail amenities will attract more people to residences in the southeast suburban market. Crescent is developing a 310-apartment project near Belleview Station.
“We’re a big believer that there’s a lot of office space down here and retail amenities,” said Mackenzie, who spoke on The Future of Interstate 25 Corridor panel. “People are going to want to start living down here. Given the traffic, we think people are going to want to live closer to where they work.”
The biggest challenge to new development in the southeast suburban market is traffic. While people like amenity-rich developments, they do not want the traffic jams that come with density, Neenan said. The interchanges at Interstate 25 and Belleview, Orchard, Dry Creek, Arapahoe and Lincoln all are congested.
“Every one of those cross streets is a major problem,” Neenan said. “It’s the No. 1 issue that has to be addressed in all of the southeast market. We’re going to be wrestling with this issue for a long time. In any event, it’s a lot better than getting downtown.”