Central Business District, Upper Downtown, UpDo? What is the name of the Denver core?


Denver, did you forget Upper Downtown?

An effort to rename and rename the city’s central business district officially took off in late 2019. It was at this point that the Downtown Denver Partnership released a plan to attract more public activity and private investment. in the area that has been overshadowed by more trendy downtown enclaves like Lower Downtown and the River North Art District over the past three decades.

Bounded by 14th, Champa, 20th and Sherman streets, the CBD is home to some of the tallest buildings on Denver’s skyline, nearly 20 million square feet of office space, a glut of hotel rooms, and Colorado. Convention Center.

Shortly after that public unveiling came COVID-19, which emptied office buildings and crushed operations at the convention center. Amid protests over the murder of George Floyd, the area also suffered extensive property damage last spring.

These events did not stop the rebranding efforts. As the A Taste of Colorado festival redesign this weekend, officials hope visitors will take note.

“The things that happened during the pandemic were certainly difficult, but they don’t define the Upper Downtown area,” said Tami Door, president and CEO of the partnership.

Progress is manifesting itself in several ways at the street level, Door said. Timing is the key. Work on the long-planned 16th Street Mall redevelopment is expected to begin next year. It could bring a whole new set of complications to downtown life and create more reasons for people to visit the area is seen as a necessary lifeline.

There are new public gathering places in the Upper Downtown District such as Outer Space. The former vacant lot on 16th and Welton streets has been transformed into a sort of park that has hosted a series of concerts in the spring and summer.

New public art, including a mural by Denver artist Thomas “Detour” Evans in the aforementioned outer space, has emerged. Efforts to plant more trees in the area continue, according to the officials of the partnership.

The arrival of new retailers is another major part of the revitalization effort.

Bob Pertierra, who took over as the partnership’s senior vice president of economic development in June, said he was working on a program that will connect willing owners with Denver-based or regional brands that may be interested in occupying space in a high traffic area. . The partnership will seek the assistance of the city in this effort.

A selling point: Upper Downtown offers a price reduction compared to commercial rents charged elsewhere in the downtown area, Door said.

Those in charge of the partnership are touting the redesign of the office tower at 410 17th St. as proof of the private sector’s buy-in to its efforts in the region.

Real estate companies SteelWave and Rialto Capital Management have teamed up to buy the 24-story building and shut it down last year, said SteelWave senior general manager Peter Llorente for Denver. Since then, the partners have invested $ 10 million in renovations.

This work resulted in a major overhaul of the hall. Working with a large team from architecture firm Gensler, the renovations opened up the space to let in more natural light and created more options for indoor and outdoor seating, Llorente said. . A conference room and fitness center were added, but the big win from the Downtown Denver Partnership perspective was bringing in a retail tenant who invites passers-by into the space.

Little Owl Coffee, an ultra-stylish roast that has had a cafe in LoDo for years, opened a second location at 410 17th this summer. Already serving espresso drinks behind a long counter, Little Owl expects to get a liquor license soon and add beer, wine and spirits to its menu, Llorente said.

“Little Owl, with their reputation they could have gone anywhere but they really liked what we’re trying to do,” said Llorente. “It’s a LoDo business but they recognized what’s going on up downtown.”

Strong equipment is part of SteelWave’s appeal to future office tenants, but so too is growth. Online marketing materials for the building show that more than 117,000 of its approximately 437,000 square feet are available. It’s kind of a space to grow is a feature of many buildings in the CBD / Upper Downtown district, according to Door.

Brokers Chris Phenicie and Hilary Barnett of real estate services firm CBRE are working with SteelWave on leasing. Being able to provide a neighborhood name that provides context on where a property fits into the city’s larger scheme has value, Barnett said, especially when the search for potential tenants comes from out of state.

“I very much appreciate the efforts to create another end of the downtown bar,” Phenicie said of the Upper Downtown rebranding. “Central Business District isn’t exactly a sexy name.”

One thing the Downtown Denver Partnership does not endorse is the abbreviation UpDo. Almost as soon as the Upper Downtown brand was announced in 2019, social media erupted with the use and jokes about this shortened form, mimicking the style of neighboring areas like LoDo, RiNo and LoHi, or Lower Highland.

Door insists that Upper Downtown is Upper Downtown.

Branding is as important for places as it is for products and services.

Melissa Akaka, associate professor of marketing at the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver, lives in Highlands Ranch, or as she calls it for short “the ranch.” When we talk about “the ranch,” people think of a suburb full of families far removed from downtown Denver. In Akaka’s experience, it’s a good fit.

“I have three kids and it turns out it’s a much easier place to live for me,” she said. “He keeps all of his promises. “

Creating an identity around a neighborhood in real time, as the partnership and its supporters strive to do in the central business district transformed into Upper Downtown, sends signals, Akaka said. It’s an effort that can influence who wants to live there and, most importantly, can impact property values, she said.

“When I hear Upper Downtown, I think of places like New York,” she said. “Part of it has to do with identity; how we relate who we are to the places where we live.

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