Last fall we reported that it appears that Denver’s steady growth in recent years will continue in 2015 based on an emerging trends report issued by Urban Land Institute and PwC. As we move forward in 2015, the statistics in support of this growth are reported on an almost daily basis. Here’s a snapshot of some of those statistics:
- Forbes ranked Denver among the top 10 fastest-growing cities in the nation.
- Denver building permits hit a 10-year high in 2014 representing a 23% increase from 2013.
- Denver apartment rent rose 7.9% in 2014 versus the nationwide average of 3.6%.
- Denver office rent rose almost 9% in 2014 versus the nationwide average of 3%.
- A recent University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business study projected Colorado to be among the top 10 states for job growth in 2015.
While these statistics certainly present a bright economic future for Denver and Colorado, what’s interesting about them is the underlying focus on what is causing this growth, particularly in Denver’s urban core. Many experts attribute the growth in Denver’s urban core (and in other cities across the country) to the Millennial generation that desires to live, work and play in an urban setting, in stark contrast to the suburban lifestyle in which much of the generation grew up. The Millennial generation also continues to face the realities of the housing meltdown and continues to rent because they can’t qualify for a mortgage or afford to purchase a home – resulting in pressure on the urban rental market and increased rent. And, as this generation populates city centers, companies are following, driven by decisions focused on recruiting the talent that wants to live and work in the urban core.
Another interesting side effect of the Millennial move to the urban core is a decrease in car ownership in Denver. A study by the Colorado Public Interest Research Group reported that the Denver metro area experienced a 10.6% decrease in vehicle-miles traveled per capita from 2006 to 2011, a 13.5% increase in miles traveled on public transportation from 2005 to 2010 and a 23% decrease in miles driven by Millennials from 2001 to 2009. The Millennial generation certainly isn’t the only explanation for the rebound in Denver’s urban core and experts also attribute the rebound to a societal shift focusing on the restoration of the urban form of the early twentieth century. The website www.denverinfill.com/blog provides a fascinating graphic of nearly all of the infill projects in Denver’s urban core over the last 15 years.