Cushman & Wakefield: ‘Denver is just freaking hip’

RiNo is just one reason Denver is, according to Cushman & Wakfield, a “Cool Street.”

Is Denver cool or what?

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According to Cushman & Wakefield’s Cool Streets 2019 Report, Denver – and not just River North and Lower Downtown – is an “18-hour Cool Street City.”

“Cool Streets” are urban neighborhoods with live-work-play environments rich in creative class workers, with great demographics – and where retail generally is thriving. Since Cushman & Wakefield published its first report in 2016, “Cool Streets” have continued to emerge in 24-hour cites like Boston, Chicago and San Francisco. “But now we are seeing the trend accelerate in places such as Boise, Charlotte, Denver, Nashville, Portland, Salt Lake City, Tampa and other metros global investors used to overlook,” the report said. “Affordable housing and employment are driving that acceleration.”

Millennials are the key force behind “Cool Streets,” but the report notes “it is crucial to note that the rise of urban living is not a millennial-driven generational quirk; it is a lifestyle choice being increasingly embraced across generations.”

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Garrick Brown, Cushman & Wakefield vice president of Retail Intelligence for the Americas, said he knew, based on market knowledge and feedback from 400 brokers across the country, that a Denver neighborhood would make the latest list of the country’s top 20 “Cool Streets,” which include the Bowery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the Los Angeles Arts District, Boston’s South End and more.

“At first, I was thinking RiNo, I was debating LoDo. What I basically got was there are so many of these little cool pockets popping up … I couldn’t make a decision on just one neighborhood, and I thought, ‘You know, Denver is just freaking hip.’” He included the whole city, and two others, as “Cool Street” cities in the report. “I gave up on Denver and Portland and Austin simply because it seemed like there were more neighborhoods going through this transformation than not,” Brown said.

Lower Downtown has all the attributes of a “Cool Street.”

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One of the places in which Denver stands out is in its dining options, he said.

“It’s just amazing what’s happened to the culinary scene there in the matter of a few short years. I don’t think that five years ago, for example, as food halls started to proliferate beyond Manhattan and a handful of cities like San Francisco, anyone would say Denver is going to be at the forefront of this. Denver is.

Whenever we see food halls opening, there’s always a whole bunch of other things – a lot of young, urban professionals, usually high levels of culture, education, and it gets tied into everything else that goes with the Cool Street phenomenon. Those things are critical because they’re what today’s professional workforce wants.

“The growth of cities has always been about going where the resources are.

In a tech-driven economy, those resources are human. So, when a city becomes extremely livable and you have it as being a place where highly educated workforce wants to be, the jobs follow,” said Brown, adding cities that do well economically are those able to draw skilled workforce.

“You have to cultivate the resources, and the resources are people and livable, cool cities to live in. That’s at the core of it.”

Jill Jamieson-Nichols has been an Editor with the Colorado Real Estate Journal for more than 15 years, providing coverage of office, industrial, hospitality and mixed-use development news in the Denver metro area, plus all property types in Northern Colorado, Boulder County and along the Highway 36 corridor. Prior to joining CREJ, Jill was Editor of…