By Peter Marcus, DENVER DAILY NEWS
Former Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros Wednesday in Boulder said Colorado is poised to be the first state in the nation to emerge from the housing crisis.
Arguing that Colorado is the first state to rebound in the real estate market and is starting to see the “light at the end of the tunnel,” Cisneros said in a conference call with reporters that a revitalized housing market is pivotal to national economic recovery.
“We are now starting to see what I think can be called the beginning of the climb back from the bottom of the housing market,” he told reporters.
Cisneros visited the Denver area Wednesday to attend an Urban Land Institute Colorado event in Denver discussing transit-oriented development. He also toured the Boulder mixed-income residential development The Peloton, which Cisneros’ Los Angeles-based investment firm, City View, provided the capital for. The former Housing and Urban Development Secretary and four-term Mayor of San Antonio founded City View and serves as its executive chairman.
Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper briefly joined the conference call — pausing from a marathon of City Council budget hearings — stating that Denver is starting to see its housing market rebound thanks to a focus on affordable and mixed-income housing, as well as transit-oriented development.
Sharing his own story as a laid off geologist turned downtown Denver brewpub owner, Hickenlooper remembered how LoDo was once a downtown filled with warehouses — an area in which no developer wanted to build.
“That is completely the opposite now,” said the mayor. “We’ve built somewhere between 15 (thousand) and 20,000 housing units in downtown or immediately downtown in the last dozen years. You go out into the Platte Valley, it used to be rail yards, it is filled with exactly what you’re talking about — transit-oriented developments, denser living, more people on bike paths, people walking to restaurants or nighttime activities — I think it’s a wave, not just here in Denver … people are seeing that all over the country.”
Hickenlooper added that it is vital to the market’s success that transit projects like FasTracks see completion so that more TOD developments can boost the market.
“How do we make sure that we’re not just delivering a rush hour benefit to reduce congestion at rush hour, but that we actually begin to change the way people live and how they think about their mobility?” Hickenlooper said is a necessary question to ask.
Cisneros added that Colorado is pulling out of the housing crisis faster than other states because it is a very attractive place to live — with its abundance of natural resources and activities, educational and federal institutions, as well as tourism opportunities — people and businesses are flocking to Colorado.
In fact, Forbes.com recently named Colorado the fourth best state in the nation to do business.
The Denver area has been showing signs of recovery faster than the rest of the nation, said Cisneros. The area is in its sixth month of S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index increases.
Positive signs nationwide
The nation as a whole is also showing positive signs, including three consecutive months of S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index increases, and several consecutive months of existing and new home sale increases.
“The national numbers are encouraging,” said Cisneros. “That’s important because it’s hard to imagine a national economic recovery that can occur without the participation of the housing sector.”
Considering 20 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product is based on the housing market, including subsectors like appliances, construction and transportation, a revitalized housing market is essential to the nation’s economic success, said the former HUD Secretary.
He also added that Denver is leading the way in its ability to embrace the “new economy” to further develop the city.
“Denver is one of the best examples in the country of the phenomenon we’re seeing of resurgence of the city — a new set of economic realities related to the new economy,” said Cisneros. “Health care and biosciences, medical centers, higher education, new media, technology — all of which have major, major places in Denver — are bringing jobs back into the city that are more city friendly — they fit better into the city’s fabric.”
Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters