South Broadway businesses feeling pressures of rising rent prices

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DENVER -- Some business owners in Denver finding it difficult to keep up with rising rent prices are considering closing their doors.

Others are being forced out by landlords for new businesses as gentrification continues along South Broadway.

After more than four decades of serving New York-style slices, employees at a favorite pizza shop said another lease will not be signed.

The strip of businesses along the busy street is home to some of Denver’s oldest storefronts.

Much of what’s historic on the outside is ready for renovation and new life on the inside. The change is part of what many people call gentrification. The progress is welcomed and feared.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” Thai Monkey Club restaurant manager Brandon Le said. “Unfortunately, a lot of other shops are closing down and moving out.”

Recent mom-and-pop business casualties in the area include a hobby shop that had been open since 1938. Famous Pizza, still in business for now, will not be able to sign a new lease, according to employees.

South Broadway has a solid mix of modern and traditional small businesses. There are also boarded-up storefronts waiting for the right investment.

“It’s changing a lot,” South Broadway consumer Barbara Hagerman said. “I’ve seen a lot of businesses come and go.”

Hagerman, a fan of the familiar restaurants and shops, hopes progress will not come at the expense of her favorite destinations.

Thanks to business owners signing long-term agreements, places such as the Thai Monkey Club will still be around for at least a few more years.

“We’ve been lucky enough to sign a really long lease, so we’re actually locked in at a really good price for a while,” Le said.

A good number of employees and owners said Tuesday they are locked into long-term leases and haven’t been impacted by rent increases.

Others would not say how much they pay in rent. A book shop owner said rent has increased nearly 50 percent over the past 10 years.