Q2 Data Insights: Denver & Austin Commercial Real Estate Markets

By the Numbers: Denver and Austin Q2 2020 Real Estate Activity

Since the initial impact of coronavirus was first felt in March 2020, commercial real estate has experienced an unprecedented season – from navigating state-wide shutdowns to slow phased re-openings. 

Austin and Denver, two markets in which SideCar PR maintains a dedicated presence, are no exception. Both cities had reached record or near-record construction and leasing levels as recently as February. 

As tenant expectations shift, submarkets strengthen and workplace needs evolve in the wake of COVID-19, it’s important to understand how Q2 numbers will help firms in these markets survive the short-term and thrive as recovery hits full swing.

Let’s take a look.


Despite slowdowns in almost every facet of the commercial real estate industry, Denver’s industrial outlooked remained strong. In fact, the market sector saw positive net absorption of nearly 1.3 million square feet during Q2 2020 as demand continued apace for manufacturing, warehousing and logistics space. Industrial construction in Denver remains active with more than 6.6 million square feet of space currently under development.

The same goes for Austin, which marked its 24th consecutive quarter of positive net absorption in the industrial sector. This growth, similar to Denver’s, was driven by strong tenant demand and a robust development pipeline totaling approximately 1.2 million square feet of active construction.

Industrial owners and developers remain cautiously optimistic. According to SideCar PR client Etkin Johnson Real Estate Partners, whose Ryan Good spoke with Bisnow prior to COVID-19 in February 2020, “We’ll find out if demand keeps up with supply.”

With additional industrial projects expected to deliver in both markets before the end of the year, and into the next, all signs point towards continued growth in this sector.  


If any immediate impact on the commercial real estate market has been felt, it’s almost certainly in the office sector.

Both Denver and Austin registered negative net absorption for the first time in 13 quarters and 37 quarters, respectively, in reaction to the rapidly evolving role of the workplace in our daily lives. Sublease availability also experienced a sharp uptick in Q2 2020 – 33.3% quarter-over-quarter growth to 3.4 million square feet in Denver – as companies prioritized their payroll and other operating expenses over maintaining their office leases.

Some experts speculate that Austin, along with other popular cities, could become a tenant’s market over the coming months, especially as more office space comes online in future quarters. But just because we’ve temporarily traded cubicles and desks for home offices or kitchen tables, doesn’t mean the workplace is gone forever. It might just look a little different.


While millions are back to work and many others can once again enjoy a meal or shop they love, the retail market continued its downward slide, with Austin and Denver both posting negative net absorption for the quarter, much like other markets across the country, including nearby Colorado Springs.

Although COVID-19 resulted in state and local stay-at-home orders and subsequently the closure of many restaurants and retailers, the sector began to reopen during Q2 2020.

What’s most encouraging and inspiring, though, is the placemaking efforts taking place around the country in an effort to bring people back together in new, albeit different, ways. With capacity severely limited, the City & County of Denver allowed expansion of restaurant dining rooms into parking lots or, in the case of our home street and client Larimer Square, onto a newly closed pedestrian street. What was once a through-street is now home to a 400-foot mural from local Denver artist Pat Milbery. Live music plays in the square every day as diners enjoy a meal illuminated by the famous lights of the Square under a sign that reads ‘Together Starts Here’. It almost feels normal. Maybe even better.

It’s going to be a long road, to be sure, but there are signs that these markets – that these communities – will rally. What they have in common, from economic strength pre-pandemic to a undeniable entrepreneurial spirit, will continue to serve all of us through the trials ahead.

Sources: Denver Industrial MarketView Q2 2020, Denver Office MarketView Q2 2020, Denver Retail MarketView Q2 2020, Austin Office MarketView Q2 2020, Austin Industrial MarketView Q2 2020, Austin Retail MarketView Q2 2020

3 Reasons We Don’t Work on Retainer

3 Reasons We Don’t Work on Retainer

At the beginning of a new relationship with a client, the question of retainers inevitably comes up, and our answer is always the same: We don’t work on retainer at SideCar. We work on results. Here’s why:

1. When you work on retainer, someone is always getting short-changed.

We all come into a new relationship with a little bit of baggage, right? PR is no different. Sometimes a client comes to us and they’ve worked with a firm previously and found a retainer convenient. They liked the idea that the firm would never exceed the pre-determined budget, no matter what they threw at them. Meanwhile, their PR firm was regularly over-servicing to keep the account.

Other times, we see clients who have clearly been burned by retainers, shelling out $10k – $20k a month to get little in the way of consistent ROI. Over time, this led to distrust or resentment on both sides.

That’s the problem with retainers. Someone is always getting short-changed. And it doesn’t have to be this way. Working on results leads to a much healthier, more transparent client/agency relationship.

2. Historically, PR has been a little mysterious to clients. Retainers were part of the problem. And we have the solution.

When PR agencies work on retainer, it’s understandably hard to know exactly what your firm is doing or the value of certain services. They might get you on the Today Show one month and then you see nothing for three months, but your bill is the same. The value of relationship-building activities in particular is hard enough to tie directly to bottom-line goals without a retainer giving all activities the same value.

So, here’s what we do instead: At the beginning of each month, we outline a list of goals and deliverables, and we tell our clients what those deliverables will cost, based on a pre-determined monthly budget. If things come up along the way – say, a great media opportunity or some sort of crisis – we communicate with our clients and determine whether new activities will take priority over our agreed-upon work or if we’ll add those services to the budget for the month. Then, at the end of the month, we provide a list of what we accomplished. That way, there’s no confusion about what things cost or how much work was accomplished. Mystery solved.

3. Retainers make for lazy, uninvested account teams.

Our ‘Ride with Heart’ ethos comes out of a genuine desire to see our clients succeed. We really, REALLY like what we do. It’s fun to support talented folks who are shaping the built environment in our cities. And it’s one of the main reasons we don’t work on retainer. We’ve seen how that sort of approach can make agencies and account teams complacent, and we never want to waste your time or ours. What’s the incentive to come up with something new and game-changing if you’re going to get the same amount you got last month when you churned out a basic release? We’re not saying your agency is getting lazy if they’re on retainer… but we’re not NOT saying it either.

We want our clients’ businesses to grow and we want to grow with them. We want to show the value of what we do by working hard every single month. So that’s what we do here at SideCar. We work hard. We deliver results. We help get you to where you want to go.

Austin, Meet SideCar PR (SideCar’s July Austin Newsletter)

Austin, Meet SideCar PR

We’re known for two things: Relationships and Results.

SideCar PR is a full-service communications firm specializing in commercial real estate, community building and placemaking. Our clients are the developers, architects, designers, builders and influencers who are elevating local communities through their work in the built environment.
Founded in Denver nearly 10 years ago, we’ve developed lasting relationships with clients across the Western Region. Now that we’re officially in Austin, we’d love to connect.

It should go without saying.

It should go without saying: Black Lives Matter.

Black lives matter. It should go without saying, but unfortunately, it still doesn’t.

White Americans have systematically oppressed and weaponized black bodies for over 400 years and continue doing so today. It’s not up to the black community to dismantle these racist systems and beliefs. It’s up to all of us. That starts with acknowledging the problems and becoming a part of the solutions.

While we can never fully understand the hardships and fears felt by our black communities, we are committed to listening and learning. Here are some of the resources we’re finding helpful. Hopefully you will too. And once we know more, it’s up to us to do better. All of us. Every day. In big gestures and small interactions.

  1. Check out:
    1. Anti-racism resources” by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein
    2. 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice“ by Corinne Shutack
    3. White people, here’s how we can try to be better allies and proactively anti-racist“ by Chloe Laws
    4. 11 Shows and Documentaries to Help You Learn About Racial Justice and Police Brutality“ by Malcolm Venable
  2. Read:
    1. “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo
    2. “Me and White Supremacy” by Layla Saad
    3. “How to be Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi
  3. Listen:
    1. “The Nod” by Gimlet
    2. “Code Switch” by NPR
    3. “1619” by NYT
  4. Watch:
    1. “Dear White People” by Justin Simien
    2. “13th” by Ava DuVernay
    3. “The Hate U Give” by George Tillman Jr.

Educate your children.

  1. Read “These Books Can Help You Explain Racism and Protest to Your Kids“ with NYT
  2. Listen to “How White Parents Can Talk To Their Kids About Race“ with NPR
  3. Tune in to TODAY’s “How to talk to kids about racism, protests and injustice

Follow the conversation and its leaders.  

  1. Rachel Cargle is an academic and an activist. She just released Public Address on Revolution: Revolution Now.
  2. Ibram X. Kendi is Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. He recently wrote The American Nightmare for The Atlantic.
  3. Opal Tometi is a globally recognized human rights advocate and co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter. Tune in to her TED interview with fellow BLM founders, Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors.
  4. Read President Barack Obama’s “How to Make this Moment the Turing Point for Real Change“ for Medium.
  5. Deray McKesson is a civil rights activist, author of “On the Other Side of Freedom” and former school administrator who launched Campaign Zero.
  6. Black leaders compiled a recommended list of books and more for white Coloradans.

Support Black-owned businesses.

  1. 303 Magazine: “275+ Black Owned Businesses to Support in and Around Denver
  2. KXAN: “Austin-area, black-owned businesses to support
  3. Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce: Member Directory
  4. Greater Austin Black Chamber: Member Directory
  5. Colorado Black Arts Festival: July 10, 11 and 12

Donate your time and money.
As a company, SideCar PR made donations to each of these organizations this week.

  1. #BlackLivesMatter started in 2013 following the murder of Trayvon Martin. The movement is committed to “struggling together and to imagining and creating a world free of anti-Blackness, where every Black person has the social, economic, and political power to thrive.”
  2. Campaign Zero provides policy solutions for limiting police interventions, improving community interactions and ensuring accountability.
  3. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) urges Congress to protect black lives and civil rights through legislative action.
  4. Donations to Colorado Freedom Fund help pay bail and post money bonds for people who are unable to afford the cost of buying their own freedom.
  5. The Austin Justice Coalition is a Racial Justice Group that educates and builds community power for people of color who live in Austin, Texas.

Support policy change.

  1. Colorado Democrats unveil sweeping police accountability bill in response to George Floyd’s death by The Colorado Sun
  2. Colorado’s State Primary Election voting ends on June 30
  3. Texas’ Runoff Ballot Election voting is in July 
  4. Know your elected officials in Austin and Denver

At SideCar, we recognize it’s a privilege to be able to educate ourselves about racism instead of experiencing it. And we know that education is just the first step in showing up for the black community. Changing things will require persistence and action long-term. We welcome your input on this journey. Have some additional resources or advice to share? We’re listening.

Happy Hours with a Purpose: A Time to Connect, Learn and Support One Another

In March, when the COVID-19 outbreak meant we could no longer gather in person, SideCar PR began hosting weekly virtual happy hours open for any and all to join.

Room for Milly

From the beginning, these happy hours were an opportunity to take a breath, laugh and meaningfully connect with each other and our community. Understanding how many companies had been impacted by the stay-at-home orders, they also became a way to shine a spotlight on some of our community’s incredible small businesses.

Each week, we would choose a business to feature and randomly select an attendee to receive a gift card in support of that business. Over the course of two months, we were able to provide almost $1,000 to some of our favorite locales!

We kicked things off with Bigsby’s Folly, a winery in RiNo. During week two, we featured Rioja, a SideCar favorite on Larimer Square. The next few weeks included Oliva, a new Italian spot in Wash Park, Room for Milly and Blue Sparrow Coffee by Mainspring, and then Raíces Brewing Co. in Sun Valley. The following week, we supported Eat Denver’s initiative, #DoubleDownDenver. Bent Fine Jewelry and Azomalli, both great friends to SideCar, were the next two businesses we featured. At our grand finale happy hour, we splashed into summer by featuring another favorite on the block, Tamayo, as well as Chook Charcoal Chicken. Cheers to margs and fried chicken!

While we know this was just one small way we could contribute, we are thankful to everyone who attended and helped support these small businesses. It was inspiring to learn how each of them have adapted during this time, and we encourage all of our fellow Denverites to go out and support local businesses however you can!

Supporting Local Nonprofits During COVID-19

Since March, SideCar PR has offered free communications support to local nonprofits in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. As this unprecedented situation unfolded, organizations had to change their operations overnight. From in-person programs going virtual to new offerings for students, we helped multiple nonprofits reach their communities during this critical time.

We’d love to share an update on some of the incredible organizations we have worked with over the past month and a half.

Think 360 Arts, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that serves K-12 schools and other community venues through teacher training, students services and public awareness programs, engaged us to help spread the word about their new virtual learning platform, Teaching Artist TV. Read more about this free and accessible online platform in Westword.

We consulted with local nonprofit Colorado Technology Association, who sought advice on adapting their communications strategy during COVID-19. For over 25 years, this organization has been viewed as a trusted resource and advocate for their members, and when COVID-19 began affecting companies of all kinds, they needed to showcase this leadership more than ever. Developing a communications strategy to keep their audiences informed about COVID-19’s effect on the technology community was the first step in helping them continue to be a key advocate and leader for their membership base.

It was a joy to help Cherry Creek Schools District get the word out about their school supply drive, which received coverage in Denver7. As students transitioned from a classroom to remote learning environment, schools needed to find creative ways to provide the basics for their students – pens, pencils, notebooks and more. With the help of volunteers and supply donations, hundreds of kits were assembled and distributed to students. 

When the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) reached out, we were honored to help them think through a new approach to their communications function as they were gearing up to take all of their community programs virtual. Getting key internal stakeholders aligned was the first step to being able to effectively continue their mission to enable Latinx individuals and their families to lead safe, healthy, self-determined lives.

All of these organizations are truly making a difference in our communities, and we enjoyed the opportunity to lend our expertise to help them.

Do you know of a nonprofit that needs communications support?

Email us at hello@sidecarpr.com.

Best Practices for Communicating About COVID-19

Today, effective communication is more important than ever.

As COVID-19 impacts more people and businesses every day, SideCar PR is here to help guide you through how to communicate during these challenging times. While the type and frequency of communications will evolve over time, the way you respond now has a lasting impact.

We’ve put together some best practices for communicating with your audiences – from employees to tenants to investors to partners – when dealing with a crisis like COVID-19.

  1. Take a breath.

We know these challenging times can feel overwhelming. It’s important to stay calm and take a moment of pause before acting. Additionally, well-respected organizations and leaders have the opportunity to set the tone for how their employees and communities will feel about and respond to a situation.

2. Gather (accurate) information.

During times of crisis and panic, news travels particularly fast as more and more new information is released in real-time. This has been evident during the entire COVID-19 timeline. It is important to rely on information from trusted sources such as the medical community and government officials.

3. Consider your specific audiences

Different audiences require different messages in times of crisis. While there needs to be a core message that is woven throughout all of your communications (health and wellbeing should remain a top priority), consider what is most important to a particular audience and lead with that.

4. Be clear, concise and empathetic

Especially when there is a global crisis like a pandemic, people are absorbing more content than normal. In all of your communications, be clear and to the point, while never sacrificing the chance to show someone you’re listening. Empathy during these times will help people feel calm and confident that you know what you’re doing and have their best interests in mind.

5. Be consistent and available

Keep your audience updated as new information evolves. Keep the lines of communication open and respond quickly to all incoming questions and comments.

6. Build camaraderie during ‘social distancing’

As we all move into a more virtual world, consider how your communications efforts can help people feel more connected. Just because we are socially distant doesn’t mean we can’t be social. We are privileged to have the technology that can help us create and build connections in new and creative ways. Plan virtual happy hours with clients, employees and partners and leverage social media to provide services online. These times are challenging and uncertain, but we should still feel empowered to find new ways to connect with one another.

Free Communications Help for Nonprofits

As we continue to closely monitor the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) in our communities, we understand this unprecedented situation is impacting our local nonprofits in several ways, including increased demand for services, lost revenue due to closures, limited volunteers, and more. With so many moving parts, we also understand the importance of effective communications during times like this.

To all nonprofits: if you need any help with communications to keep your people up to date on the latest information/needs from your organization, please let us know! We recognize this is just one piece of the puzzle you’re trying to figure out, but we’d love to donate our time and expertise how we can. Please contact us at hello@sidecarpr.com to schedule a 30-minute session to kick things off.

Part 3: 4 Ways to Use Video to Build Your Brand In 2020

In last week’s blog, we focused on ways to translate data analytics into actionable social campaigns. This week, we’re excited to discuss how you can use video as a powerful educational tool.

Use Video as An Educational Tool

When it comes to raising awareness for a particular product, service or issue, video is an enormously powerful educational tool. About 68% of people said they would prefer to learn about new products or services by watching a short video, but 96% of people say they’ve watched lengthier videos to learn more about a product or service. The audience is there! Remember that the next time you’re considering how to get across a piece of information. Adding a video component could make all the difference.

We used video to explain how our client NINE dot ARTS’ creates engaging and unique art experiences for their own clients.

Thank you for tuning into our blog! Next week we’ll focus on leveraging social media as a search engine.

Part 2: 4 Ways to Use Video to Build Your Brand In 2020

Last week, on our blog, we discussed the power of integrating video into your communications strategy and simple ways to measure the success of your videos. We’re continuing our four-part multimedia series this week with a look at how you can translate your video strategy into actionable social campaigns.

With more people using social media than ever – around 3.48 billion – visual content strategies, including social media and video campaigns, are becoming increasingly important to reach your target audiences.

What makes a strong social media strategy even more important is that it’s increasingly the gateway to your brand – about 58% of consumers visit a brand’s social media channels before visiting their website.

So, how can video raise your game on social media? Let’s dive in.

Get Social with Video

With Instagram and Facebook providing ways to post live stories and videos, companies have more opportunities than ever to leverage these features to share a brand’s story with more than 400 million active Instagram users and 500 million daily Facebook users.

About 90% of businesses today are posting videos at least once per week on Facebook and YouTube while 80-83% of brands regularly post videos on Instagram, which is unsurprising, given that social videos are shared 1,200% more than images and text combined!

And it’s not just consumer-focused brands using it to their advantage. Video is just as relevant for the CRE community. Given the highly visual and experiential nature of the built environment, there’s tons of opportunity to help people understand what you do and how you do it through video.

Here’s an example of how our client Elsy Studios used video to share the completion of an impressive adaptive reuse project with their social networks:

By leveraging social media analytics from your accounts and campaigns, you can track and improve performance to ensure you’re putting your time and resources into the right channels and content types.

Don’t forget to tune into our blog next week! We’ll tell you how you can use video as a powerful educational tool.