LoDo businesses boast "bullish" outlook in hopes of drumming up optimism
The LoDo district is looking for more positive press because public safety is important for the whole city to flourish. Business leaders say that in the meantime, the district is seeking more positive press.
Denver's LoDo business owners are tired of hearing about safety and crime downtown.
Business owners in the lower downtown district of the city say that while these issues remain important, they are now ready to promote a positive narrative. They want to show how their neighborhood is faring better than the rest downtown.
The occupancy rate of offices and retail stores is higher. New restaurants are opening. City leaders are looking to LoDo for an example on how other downtown neighborhoods can adapt vacant office spaces and reinvigorate the local foot traffic. Speakers at a panel hosted by neighborhood organization LoDo District, Inc. said as much.
The panel, titled "Bullish on Business LoDo," aimed to bring attention to the more positive developments in the neighborhood. Marty Steinberg, Dick Farley and co-chairs, as well as business owners from LoDo, were the panelists.
Farley stated after the forum that "in general, everyone looks at downtown as being in pain."
The issues of crime and homelessness in downtown Denver have been the focus of local elections for this year. Some business owners from outside LoDo claim that these problems are still present or worsening.
These are important issues that must be addressed for the city to flourish. Farley added that the LoDo district needs positive publicity as well.
Farley stated, "We have some vacant positions, but are in better shape here." "I believe we all have the notion that downtown is unsafe. It's actually not as unsafe as you think.
Don Cloutier is the general manager of Dairy Block, and was a panelist on Wednesday. He said that the future of LoDo will depend to some degree on what happens elsewhere in downtown, such as whether or not restaurants can fill up the growing vacancies at Larimer Square.
He said LoDo was poised to grow as the epicenter of the city, a historic neighborhood that has managed to successfully create a sense place with businesses that attract people to the area.
Cloutier's development company was also involved with McGregor Square and Market Station.
Business owners in the LoDo area are concerned that the rapid revitalization of the city could result in their needs being put aside while other neighborhoods catch up.
Some attendees said they didn't think their requests to the city to regulate the abundance of scooters downtown were heard, while others said they still wait for the public transportation system to tighten security and more regulation for businesses who don't adhere to better safety standards.
Cloutier stated that Denver needs to be more consistent in order to ensure public security and the success LoDo. His company has privatized the security of its major developments, and spends around $800,000.00 per year just on security for Dairy Block.
He said that to remain competitive, landlords put more resources into assessing potential tenants' risk. This includes financial assessments, as well as more collaboration and understanding whether the tenant is a good fit for that particular neighborhood.
Cloutier, a developer, said that it was important for developers to include a lifestyle element on the first-floor of the building. Landlords must be flexible in what operators require to achieve this new type of space.
He said that the rental market in LoDo was higher than the average.
Farley stated that the LoDo District Inc. has begun the initial stages of revitalizing the 16th Street Mall along the eastern part of the district.
The organization wants to increase business in that area, which has been isolated from foot traffic due to construction. His vision includes narrower streets that would allow for more cafe seating, and kiosks located further west along the corridor.