Downtown Denver Transforms To Tech Hub
Denver has become such a hub for tech companies that they are taking up office space at more than twice the rate they were last year, according to CBRE’s annual Colorado Tech Book.
Annual absorption of office space by tech companies hit 849K SF between the third quarter of 2017 and the second quarter of this year. At least 22 tech companies opened a new Colorado office or relocated their headquarters to the state in the past year. Most of the state’s tech industry expansion took place in downtown Denver, which recorded 472,282 SF in positive net absorption, followed by Boulder and the Northwest submarkets, which saw 377K SF and 135K SF, respectively.
“Tech companies continue to recognize the great talent base but also the relatively low cost of wages,” CBRE Senior Vice President of Tech and Media Alex Hammerstein said.
Between 2010 and 2017, Colorado’s tech sector employment grew 34.1%, or the equivalent of 27,429 new jobs. The majority of that employment growth occurred in the Denver/Boulder metro area, which for the first time ranked among North America’s Top 10 Tech Talent Markets in CBRE’s annual Scoring Tech Talent Report.
Downtown Denver has the region’s fastest-growing tech presence. Its share of office space dedicated to the tech sector increased from 5.9% to 7.8% over the four quarters studied. Downtown Denver overtook Boulder for having the lowest average company age, indicating that more startups are launching locations in Denver.
While the Northwest submarket remains No. 1 for having the largest tech footprint overall with nearly 2.6M SF of tech companies, Boulder displaced the submarket for having the highest tech concentration — 33.4% of Boulder’s office space is now dedicated to tech firms.
Hammerstein said millennials and Gen Z prefer to live in the urban core and are looking for jobs they can walk to. SendGrid, for example, started in Boulder and later opened an office in Denver as an experiment. Today, the company’s 500 Denver employees occupy 150K SF of office space at 1801 California St. downtown.
“They found that three out of four of their hires wanted to be in Denver,” Hammerstein said. “The access to the labor base was a huge catalyst to their growth.”
Companies from outside the area that are taking note of the Front Range’s growing prominence in the tech industry include Netflix, which opened a new Boulder office; Maxar Technologies, which moved its headquarters to Westminster; Formstack, which opened a new office in Colorado Springs; Upserve, which opened a new Denver office; and Snapfulfil, which opened its U.S. headquarters in Broomfield.
“A lot of the companies we work with are importing their talent from the Bay Area,” Hammerstein said. “They give their employees the opportunity to move to Boulder or Denver, and a lot of them are taking advantage of that.”
CORRECTION, SEPT. 6, 2:42 P.M. MT: A previous version of this story did not have the correct title for CBRE Senior Vice President of Tech and Media Alex Hammerstein. The story has been updated.