While Mayor Michael Hancock has said he can’t cancel rent between private companies and private citizens, his real estate office plans to forgive three months of rent for business owners who pay rent at government-owned buildings.
The move would relieve stress on the companies and organizations, including coffee shops, bars and even the performing arts center, according to the contract proposal filed with the Denver City Council.
“These businesses are hurting just like a lot of businesses in Denver,” said Julie Smith, a spokesperson for the city’s finance department. “And while we don’t necessarily have control over private landlords, we as a landlord can lead by example.”
The 10 businesses that would receive rent relief are:
- Denver Center for the Performing Arts
- The National Western Center Authority, a quasi-governmental group overseeing the campus redevelopment
- Wellshire LLC, the concessionaire for Wellshire Golf Course
- Two Subways housed in the Webb Building and Justice Center
- Coffee Etcetera in the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse
- Dazbog Coffee at the Webb Building
- The Stockyard Inn and Saloon at the National Western Center
- Russell’s Convenience at various city-owned buildings
- Pizza Republica at the Denver Convention Center
Business owners could defer rent three months if they agreed to extend their leases by three months, the proposal states. Those three months would be worth about $137,000, a spokesperson for the Denver Department of Finance said.
City Councilwoman Robin Kniech told Denverite it would make sense for future commercial rent relief to come with commitments for workers employed by those companies.
“I am supportive of business tenant rent relief,” she said via text message. “But advocating that rent relief or any forms of larger or recurring business assistance like this be linked to some worker protections.”
Kniech co-led the initiative to raise the city’s minimum wage, along with Mayor Hancock. She and her colleagues on council will consider the proposal at Monday’s legislative meeting and probably vote on it May 4.
In case you were wondering why rent relief has not been extended to city-owned housing, it’s because city-owned housing barely exists. While Denver’s government subsidizes many of the city’s 24,000 income-restricted homes, it does so by partnering with developers, said Derek Woodbury, a spokesperson for the Denver Department of Housing Stability. Fewer than 10 city-owned homes exist, he said. They were once used for people with behavioral health issues and are vacant, but Woodbury said that will change soon as the city approves a new service provider “in the weeks or months ahead.”
Related: Despite its local name, the Denver Housing Authority gets its money and marching orders from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. DHA has paused all foreclosures and evictions and delayed payment of rent from many of its commercial tenants until late 2020, spokesperson Stella Madrid said. The agency is working with individual tenants who need rent relief, she said, charging some people $50 a month.