Aurora has a woeful number of prime office buildings to offer prospective businesses and companies seeking to locate in this city of 340,000.
In fact, there are barely a handful
of buildings with so-called Class A office space and those are nearing 20 years old or more.
But city officials are hoping to change that, with the redevelopment of the dilapidated Regatta Plaza and along the light-rail line that follows Interstate 225, scheduled to open this year.
"Aurora is not on the radar screen," said City Councilman Bob LeGare. "Aurora is not seen as a place investors will be looking at."
Aurora is at the bottom of Denver area "submarkets" in terms of the average office lease price rate and is among the highest for office vacancies, according to a 2014 study performed for the city by Parsons Brinckerhoff.
The average office lease rate in Aurora checked in at about $14 per square foot, half the going rate of about $30 a square foot for office space in downtown Denver. Even Longmont saw higher square feet rates than Aurora, at more than $15 per square foot.
Aurora must do a better job of creating high-quality commercial office space to lease and sell to companies, city officials said.
They hope to do so along the light-rail corridor, especially near the City Center off of East Alameda Avenue and South Sable Boulevard, as well as Regatta Plaza, near I-225 and South Parker Road.
Development near the Anschutz Medical Campus is also prime for commercial office buildings, as are locations near the Gaylord Rockies Hotel, expected to open in 2018, Mayor Steve Hogan said.
"While past studies have identified there is a problem getting Class A office built in the city, it really just takes a developer willing to be first," Hogan said. "That's not any different than what happened in downtown Denver 30 years ago, or in the Cherry Creek area just a few years ago."
Jim McPartland of KW Commercial Real Estate in metro Denver agrees that new office opportunities could be found near some of those areas.
But it may be more difficult than just building a new rail line or a fancy hotel.
The recession eliminated a lot of tenants and created vacancies across the metro area, he said. Denver is coming back from that, as are locations in the Denver Tech Center. And downtown Denver is a more attractive option for a variety of reasons, he said.
"Developers are going to be very, very cautious before they add more office space to a market that is still oversaturated," McPartland said.