City approaches its own landlords about possible rent relief

The building at 101 W. Colfax Ave. opened in 2006. (BizDen file photo)

The City of Denver is interested in some rent relief of its own.

While the city owns much of its real estate, it’s also a tenant in 15 leases, not counting public safety facilities.

City officials are reaching out to the landlords — or sublandlords, in the case of The Denver Post building — for those spaces, as part of its effort to address a projected $226 million revenue loss for 2020.

“We are looking at all savings options, including exploring what savings may be possible as it relates to our leased office space, however at this time we have not made any final decisions or taken action beyond some initial discussion with landlords,” Julie Smith, spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Finance, which includes the Real Estate Division, said in an email. “Most changes to our leases would have to be approved by City Council.”

Smith said the city at this point is not requesting a specific amendment to leases, but more broadly just seeing what might be possible.

“We’ve contacted some, but not all landlords,” she said. “We intend to contact all of them over the coming days and weeks.”

Other steps the city has taken to address the shortfall include last week’s announcement that it would furlough thousands of city workers for eight days by the end of 2020.

As for those entities that lease space in city-owned buildings, the city already has offered them a break on rent.

On May 4, Denver City Council unanimously approved a measure offering to defer rent for the tenants for three months in exchange for extending each lease term by three months.

Those tenants are:

  • – Denver Center for the Performing Arts
  • – 5280 Enterprises LLC, which operates two Subways in city buildings
  • – Coffee Etcetera in the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse
  • – Dazbog Coffee in the Webb Building
  • – Stockyard Inn and Saloon on the National Western campus
  • – HJB Convenience, which operates Russell’s Convenience in city buildings
  • – National Western Center Authority
  • – Wellshire LLC, which operates concessions at Wellshire Golf Course
  • – Pizza Republica at the Colorado Convention Center

In mid-April, Denver City Council also unanimously passed a proclamation urging state and federal leaders to freeze rent payments, despite questions about whether those leaders have the authority to do so. No state or federal leaders have taken the council’s suggestion.

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