A planned shuffle of Denver city offices calls for moving three major agencies that oversee parks, public health and economic development to private office space in The Denver Post building.
The proposal to expand a two-year-old sublease deal in that building comes as city government prepares to fill the equivalent of more than 470 new budgeted full-time positions this year, including some temporary workers.
The latest space addition at 101 W. Colfax Ave. would cost $9.6 million over 10 years, according to newly filed city documents. That would increase the total cost of the multi-year sublease with The Post, for all or part of four floors in the 11-story building, to $31.3 million.
A plan submitted to the City Council this week calls for moving the main offices of Denver Parks and Recreation, the Department of Public Health and Environment and the Office of Economic Development out of the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Office Building, which is across the street from The Post building. Those moves would make room within the Webb building for other departments, agencies and offices to expand, with reconfigurations planned on some floors to accommodate more desks.
A Post analysis in September found that the municipal workforce will have grown nearly 20 percent between 2012 and 2018, if this year’s hiring plans pan out. The city employment surge coincides not only with Denver’s population boom but also with fast-growing tax revenue during the economic recovery, enabling the reversal of some recession-period service cuts as well as government growth.
But at least one council member has questioned the city’s increased reliance on leasing high-dollar downtown office space.
During Monday’s council meeting, Councilwoman Debbie Ortega suggested the upcoming lease expansion would be an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars. The subject came up while the council was discussing a staffing proposal for implementation of the city’s $937 million bond package.
City finance spokeswoman Courtney Law clarified Wednesday that the bond oversight employees likely would work in the Webb building — not the Post building, as had been discussed at Monday’s meeting.
Law said officials sought to keep the relocated offices near Civic Center and said The Post’s sublease terms were competitive for the downtown office market. The new proposal is based on a fixed annual rate of $28.20 per square foot over 10 years, and she noted that the building already was wired for the city’s internal network.
“The city searched every primary space available over 25,000 square feet that had at least a three-year lease term available,” Law said. “This was basically the best deal we could get.”
Previously, the city inked two seven-year sublease deals with The Post, valued at $21.7 million, for more than 92,000 square feet on the first, seventh and eighth floors.
The proposed sublease amendment, which the council will consider in coming weeks, would secure about 26,000 square feet on the ninth floor for a decade.
The Post’s newsroom and advertising employees had occupied part of the eighth floor until last month, when most were relocated to the printing plant in Adams County.
Only the newspaper’s owner, Digital First Media, remains in the building, occupying space on the top floor. While The Post doesn’t own the downtown building, it holds a long-term lease of several floors and for years has subleased to other tenants.