Denver, CO

Workforce shortages drive Denver construction costs higher

Margaret Jackson

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By Margaret Jackson / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) Construction costs in Denver rose 3.95% between Jan.1 and April 1— higher than the national average of 2.4%, according to a report from construction advisory firm Rider Levett Bucknall Ltd.

The skyrocketing cost of materials and shortage of labor in a market with many projects under construction is to blame, said Peter Knowles, executive vice president at Rider Levett Bucknall.

“We haven’t seen construction costs increase this rapidly in Denver since we started doing this study in 2002,” Knowles said. “It really comes down to supply and demand. We have a huge demand for materials and construction workers in Colorado — particularly in Denver — and too few construction workers to take up that volume of activity.”

Much of the construction activity is occurring in Denver’s River North neighborhood, where apartments are in high demand.

Knowles predicts the Golden Triangle will soon see a similar amount of construction after the city approved new zoning rules for the neighborhood that provide for a better experience for pedestrians and a better mix of uses, including more affordable housing.

“Part of those changes were allowing greater density of construction, greater density of apartments and allowed for higher buildings,” he said. “It suggests that part of our little downtown is going to be next to see some larger buildings — not high rise but mid rise.”

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