Available retail space for rent in the downtown area is tightening!

The downtown Denver retail market including the 16th Street Mall is bouncing back and many business leaders are indicating that the mall may soon get more anchor retailers. The 16th Street Mall which opened in 1982 followed by the three-story Tabor Center on 16th between Larimer and Arapahoe St. which drew thousands of people to downtown Denver and was a great success for years. The mall had several anchor tenants in the 1980s including department stores such as May D&F, Joslins, Fashion Bar, JC Penney, The Denver Dry and Neusteter’s which are now all gone mainly because the mall could not sustain or draw the necessary 14-15 million visitors per year and partly because of the lack of residences, parking and the opening of the Cherry Creek Mall in 1989. Since then the mall has been transforming itself and now the 16th Street Mall is one of the few malls in the US that attracts more than 12.3 million pedestrians (according to Downtown Denver Business Improvement District estimated in 2012) with many of those being tourists and convention visitors. Part of the transformations has also been the Tabor Center, owned by Calahan Capital Partners, which has reconfigured the Tabor Center with successful ground level restaurants like the Cheesecake Factory and the Tilted Kilt, along with the Colorado Athletic Club and Bridgepoint University on the third floor; however it never regained it’s retail prowess of the late 1980s.  The Denver Pavilions (built in 1998) has also seen improvement in it’s leasing activity, including the opening of H&M, a 22,000 square foot flagship store opened in Nov 2011, Lime Mexican restaurant and the 10 year renewal of Coyote Ugly Saloon on the third floor. H&M is also looking to expand into the vacant third-floor space above its store. United Artists Theater on the third-floor attracts more than 750,000 visitors per year. Vacancy rates of retail space for rent on the 16th Street Mall is estimated at only about 2-3%.  For years, the city has been negotiating with Target to come downtown but to no avail, partly because the retailer doesn’t want to locate on a one-way street crossing the mall. The city is looking into converting two-way streets, but that’s quite expensive. Last years announcement that King Soopers will open full-service store on the ground floor of an apartment development on 20th and Chestnut St was welcoming news and is scheduled to open in 2015.  As part of the continued efforts to land an anchor tenant, the city has extend the area’s taxing finance district to 2017 to help pay for new pavers and other improvements.