The Denver Post

Apartment List: Rents may soar if Denver wins

- By Danika Worthingto­n

As Amazon’s gaze sweeps the country in search of a home for a second headquarte­rs, Colorado government­s and businesses have put out a figurative — but large — WELCOME mat, while detractors plead for the behemoth to look elsewhere.

Opponents have named several concerns about the addition of 50,000 Amazon employees and 66,250 supplement­ary workers, including rising rents. And a recent Apartment List study shows those fears could prove true.

Amazon’s arrival alone could raise rents 8.8 percent over a decade — with an annual increase of 0.8 percent on the low end and 1.1 percent on the high end. That translates to renters paying

$7,751 to $11,452 more in rent over that period, according to the Apartment List analysis.

The study used a variety of data to make its conclusion­s, including data from the U.S. Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics, historical building rates and an ease-of-building factor. It used Amazon’s request for proposal to estimate how much new employees would earn.

Denver already struggles with affordable housing. Rent jumped 52 percent from 2005 to 2015, according to the study. Amazon’s arrival could add from 0.8 percentage point to 1.1 percentage point to the metro area’s annual 4.8 percent growth.

The problem is exaggerate­d by an existing low vacancy rate that sits around 5 percent and a historical average of 12,026 building permits a year, which would not give the metro area enough room to smoothly absorb Amazon employees, according to Apartment List.

The current median wages in Denver are around $41,250, but new housing for tech workers, who would earn, on average, $100,000 per year, would probably skew toward expensive, luxury apartments, according to the study.

Although Denver would experience additional rent growth, it’s not as extreme as it would be in some other of the 15 most likely locations for the second Amazon headquarte­r. Raleigh, N.C., Pittsburgh and San Jose, Calif., would face an extra potential annual increase of 1.0 percent or higher on the low end.

Colorado submitted its proposal to attract Amazon’s second headquarte­rs Wednesday, a day before the deadline.

Compared with other proposals, Colorado’s was more subdued, not offering to name a city after the company (Georgia), not sending a 21-foot cactus (Arizona) and not offering $7 billion in public incentives (New Jersey).

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