The Office of the Denver District Attorney plans to move from a city-owned building to Republic Plaza, giving a win to the struggling older office tower and creating a path for the city to relinquish space it’s been subleasing in the former Denver Post building.
The DA has a tentative deal to take 73,924 square feet across multiple floors of the building at 370 17th St., which is the city’s tallest.
The lease would run for about 13-and-a-half years, from June 1 until the end of 2036, with two five-year extension options, according to materials set to be presented to the City Council this week.
The contract calls for Denver to pay $49.92 million over that period. Joshua Rosenblum, spokesman for the city’s finance department, said that amount includes “base rent, operating expense and additional expenses like after hours HVAC and parking.”
Among the reasons Republic Plaza was picked for the lease was “very favorable economic terms, including one-year free rent,” according to a document prepared by city staff.
Rosenblum declined to identify the floors that would be leased, citing “safety for staff and visitors,” while also saying the city may disclose that information in the future. A broker marketing the building did not respond to a request for comment.
Another broker not directly involved told BusinessDen he believes the lease is for the building’s 52nd through 54th floors, which, if true, would give prosecutors some of the best views in the city. Denver’s public defenders, meanwhile, have space in a lower floor at 1560 Broadway, per the state’s website.
The 56-story, 1.3-million-square-foot Republic Plaza, owned by New York-based Brookfield Properties and MetLife, is among the downtown towers most affected by the pandemic. The loan secured by the building has been in special servicing for months after the ownership group failed to pay the loan off when it matured late last year.
That failure is likely due in part due to increased interest rates, as well as lender concern over office leasing trends, particularly companies downsizing to less space. Additionally, Republic Plaza dates to the 1980s, and tenants have been bypassing it for newer office buildings in recent years.
CoStar showed Republic Plaza as 68 percent leased as of Friday. That’s down from nearly 80 percent in January largely because of the expiration this spring of DCP Midstream’s lease; the oil and gas firm moved to the Denver Tech Center.
The vacancy rate doesn’t factor in existing tenants trying to sublet space they’re currently paying for, like Denver-based Guild Education, which is trying to offload two of its four floors, or about 50,000 square feet. Additionally, oil and gas firm Ovintiv’s 300,000-square-foot lease in the building is up in 2026, and the company is likely to drop 100,000 square feet even if it renews, a source said. Ovintiv didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The overall downtown office vacancy rate was 28 percent as of the end of the first quarter, according to CBRE.
The DA’s lease, which still needs to be approved by the City Council, is part of a broader series of city real estate moves.
The DA currently works out of the city-owned Webb Municipal Building at 201 W. Colfax Ave., which also houses other city departments. According to the city documents, the city’s real estate division has in recent years worked with a consultant on a study aimed at maximizing use of the building.
An important piece of that study, according to the city documents, has been including a plan to bring back city employees working in the former Denver Post building next door, at 101 W. Colfax Ave. The city has been subleasing space in that building since 2016, and now has multiple floors.
Lisa Lumley, director of the city’s real estate division, told council members in February that some of the subleases will start to expire this August.
“Our goal is to work in Webb so we can bring our Denver Post employees back into the building,” Lumley said in February.
But some operations would have to move out of Webb for that to happen, and the DA’s office growth projections would have it taking more than 20 percent of the building, according to the city documents.
The DA’s Office specifically wanted a building with large blocks of space in a narrow area that was close to courthouses, according to the documents. Republic Plaza is one block from the Webb building. Other possibilities considered were the building at 1700 Broadway and 410 17th St., a source told BusinessDen.