I love working in downtown Denver. Over the past few months, the Union Station construction across from my Kentwood City Properties real estate office has really taken center stage. Union Station is undergoing the largest transportation remodel and expansion in the country.
This project will expand the current light rail lines and bring light rail directly from Downtown to Denver International Airport and west to Lakewood and Golden among other line expansions.
Many companies from hotels to retail and housing are targeting downtown Denver given the magnitude of this project and the framework that is being constructed. Union Station Neighborhood Co. is the developer behind the project. To get a sense of the history of Union Station and the vision that inspires the project, take a look at this 3-minute video.
In 2009 we witnessed a pullback in the number of loft sales and an overall softening of property values downtown. Our country suffered a decline in real estate sales on a national level and that filtered into our market as well. Even the knowledge that Union Station was going to be renovated and the light rail system expanded to Denver International Airport, home buyers were uncertain if the project would ever get going.
There was talk of funding and this “great project” but no visual evidence for skeptics. A review of Multiple Listing Service data in 2008 showed a total of 21 loft and condo sales over $1 million. In 2009, that number dropped dramatically to only 6 reported sales over $1 million downtown. This remained consistent through 2010 as MLS reported only 8 closed sales over a $1 million. In 2011, the same market area showed almost a 50% increase in sales over $1 million as MLS reported 15 closed sales with 9 of them occurring in the second half of the year.
Our national economy was still rocky, but the dirt behind Union Station was getting moved and the revitalization of Union Station was beginning to take shape.
2012 presented another increase in the number of million dollar sales of lofts and condos downtown of almost 25% from 2011 with a total of 23 sales. I acknowledge that there are other factors on a national and global scale that helped our local economy bounce back and would have attributed to an increase in luxury sales downtown. In addition, the fact that the Four Seasons slashed offer prices by 40 to 60% in early 2012 resulted in numerous sales over $1 million.
Many of these sales were not reported in MLS. I believe that the planned expansion of Union Station and the evidence that this project was happening provided a strong selling point and brought comfort to these buyers as a catalyst for what would help shape future real estate values in downtown Denver.
Today, the surface parking lots on either side of Union Station are gone, replaced by cranes and the beginning stages of the outdoor piazzas, retail and dining facilities that will make up new wing buildings on either side of Union Station. Behind Union Station, the infill between Union Station and Riverfront Park has witnessed the build-out of the underground bus terminal, relocation of the light rail station, and also the connections of Wewatta Street from 15th to 20th streets.
It is evident that this project will enhance downtown Denver and bring our city into a new era. Denver is growing and I am personally excited about where the renovation of Union Station will take our city.
Looking ahead, I believe now is the time to purchase a loft or condo in downtown Denver. Property values are on the rise and I believe the renovation and expansion of Union Station is one of the main reasons for the increases. While this blog focused on sales over $1 million, the same trend is evident at other price points downtown.
If you have questions about downtown Denver or any other metro-area neighborhoods, I would love to hear from you. Please use the contact form on this page to reach me immediately for any questions you may have about the Denver real estate market.