In a 6-6 deadlock, the Hancock administration’s $9.9 million sublease agreement that would have allowed the city to snag the top floor of The Denver Post building failed at the feet of Denver City Council on Monday night.
The nine-year contract with DP Media Network LLC would have run from May of this year through October 2029, amending the 2016 agreement that currently subleases the city nearly half of the building. The new agreement was to ensure city government had expansion space and swing space to accommodate workers while the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Building undergoes renovations.
But that space might already exist, said Denver City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca, known to butt heads with Hancock.
“I’m very concerned about this investment,” she said during the council’s first meeting of the year. “I’m in a building that’s less than 25% utilized that belongs to the city … and I’ve found that several of our spaces are underutilized.”
Councilwoman Deborah Ortega shared some of CdeBaca’s concerns.
“I think we need to look at the real estate we have … and be more methodical about how we are leasing space,” she said. “I’ve asked for a comprehensive real estate plan and have gotten piecemeal. It’s critical for us to have clarity of understanding in knowing where we’re going with additional leases.”
The sublease agreement would have secured more than 25,000 square feet on the 11th floor of the 101 W. Colfax Ave. building, which currently houses a handful of city agencies. The nearly $10 million bid would have raised the total contract amount to about $41.5 million.
Officials in Denver’s Real Estate Division say some of the building’s main draws are its proximity to other city buildings, as well as its affordability.
The Post building is at least 30% below market for a similar building, according to the city’s finance department, with a lease rate of $32 per square foot.
Nevertheless, council members Amanda Sawyer, Kevin Flynn, Chris Hinds and Amanda Sandoval voted in opposition of the contract alongside Councilwomen CdeBaca and Ortega. Pushing the contract forward were council members Chris Herndon, Jolon Clark, Kendra Black, Stacie Gilmore, Paul Kashmann and Robin Kniech. (Councilwoman Jamie Torres was absent.)