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Denver's skyrocketing property values are hurting small businesses

Our Colorado: Economic boom affecting small biz
Posted: 7:53 PM, Jul 09, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-10 01:53:41Z

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DENVER — Our Colorado is growing and with that comes a booming economy and skyrocketing property values, but while some of our neighbors are benefiting, others are struggling.

The average commercial property shot up 20 to 25 percent, according to the Denver Assessor's Office, and as a result, some local shops have seen their property taxes double.

Add that on top of rent hikes, and many small businesses are feeling the pinch.

"The increase in population helps a little bit, people coming and going in this great neighborhood, but not enough," said Arts at Denver gallery owner Paula Conley.

Conley's art gallery proudly sells mostly Colorado artists and has been a staple on Denver's Historic South Gaylord Street for nearly a decade.

Conley said she found out five weeks ago, that the property taxes on her building doubled and the rent was going up too.

"The property taxes in our small shop went up $400 a month, and our rent went up $600 a month," she explained.

Conley was able to talk them down a hundred dollars, but if you think residential rents are high, she said she's now paying more than $2,700 for her 750-square foot shop.

"It has an impact on the artists in the galley. It has impacts on my income, and whether small businesses like mine can survive," said Conley.

For now, she has found ways to survive by cutting expenses, expanding store hours, and increasing prices slightly. But Conley said Arts for Denver's future is far more uncertain.

"That was this year, what's going to happen next year? We don't know, yet," she said.

Arts for Denver isn't the only local business feeling the pain of the city's record growth and skyrocketing property values.

Just down the street in booming Cherry Creek North — a place known for its independent shops, they're feeling the pinch too.

"That affects our bottom line," said Daniel Louis, owner of Revampt in Cherry Creek North. "If small businesses get pushed out, it's definitely going to lose its charm."

Louis said their property value shot up 16 percent, which amounts to more than $5,000 more than they were paying previously.

Back at Paula's gallery, like one of the paintings on her wall, she's hoping her art gallery can last the Test of Time.

"If you love the small businesses in your neighborhood, it's crucial to support them, probably now more than ever," she said.

The Denver Assessor's Office said the way the rules are currently written in the state constitution, under the Gallagher Amendment, commercial properties pay four times more than residential properties.

Lawmakers are trying to get around this issue, and a legislative committee will meet for the first time on Friday to talk about it.

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