By Jeff Todd

DENVER (CBS4) – The announcement that events are returning to the Colorado Convention Center is leading many to believe a rebirth of downtown Denver is near.

“It was always busy. People here day and night. Even now there will be hours where people don’t come in and it’s sad,” said Angie Carrico, a bartender at the Tarantula Billiards Bar and Grille.

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The billiards hall is one block away from the convention center and the lack of events, convention goers and tourists alike is very noticeable.

“We’re one of the first bars, and people come straight here, and it’s just full. That’s where all of our business is,” Carrico said.

Around the central business district, there are signs of empty spaces. Proof the pandemic has taken a toll on businesses as people who work downtown, and tourists alike haven’t filled the area.

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“We’re deeply committed to getting those employees back to really reinvigorate everything really open up downtown and get things flowing,” said Tami Door the President and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership. “It’s important because it supports our ground floor retailers. Our ground floor business and in turn that’s what our visitors like to partake in when they come.”

Door says Denver has fared better than “peer cities” and is ranking high on a survey of places people want to visit as the pandemic subsides.

“Cities have been around for thousands of years, and there’s a reason for that, because it’s where people want to be. They want to walk out and see art. They want to walk out and see different faces and experience different things. Where else can you do that but in the heart of your city,” Door said.

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Downtown Denver has 145,000 employees, many in offices that sit vacant right now. Door says she’s hearing some companies want to start bringing workers back into the office as early as April.

“There’s change, there’s fluctuation, there’s companies that have to make decisions about coming and going. But it’s a point in time. This is not market driven, this is policy, protocol and regulation driven because we’re coming out of a pandemic,” Door said. “We’ll be on a good schedule with meetings and conventions, leisure visitors.”

“That keeps everyone hanging around here,” said Carrico. “It’s our livelihood pretty much.”

Jeff Todd