FirstBank, the largest Colorado-based bank with $27 billion in assets, is growing its presence in downtown Denver with the consolidation of operations and additional office space.

The bank planned a grand opening Thursday at its location at 1144 15th St. FirstBank President Kevin Classen said the company opened a branch location on the street level a month ago and recently added office space on the Optiv building’s 20th floor.

“This made sense to us because it’s a great way to centralize our team down there,” Classen said. “We have a good conference space. Customers can come to us and we can also host nonprofit events in that space.”

The bank wants to meet its customers where they are, Classen said, and he sees activity downtown picking up following the slowdown in the height of the pandemic.

“You see Colorado continuing to attract new companies offering new job opportunities, Some of those are going to be downtown in the core,” Classen said. “And of course, there are tens of thousands of residents who live in downtown Denver who are interested in seeing the downtown be vibrant and inviting.”

McGregor Square in Lower Downtown Denver said Tuesday that it has leased 100% of its space and all the tenants have moved into the multi-use development that spans a city block.

The latest data by the Downtown Denver Partnership show that the percentage of employees who have returned to downtown offices is at 53% of pre-pandemic levels. Downtown averaged about 180,000 visitors in December, up 8% from November and 85% of the average in December 2019, according to an analysis of foot traffic based on data from devices enabled to share the information.

“I think the jury is still out a little bit on the long-term impacts of a hybrid work environment and what remote work means to all types of business,” Classen said.

FirstBank believes in the success of downtown Denver, Classen added. “We think being part of that success is going to be really important for FirstBank long-term and we think the success of downtown is going to be really important to the state of Colorado.”

Classen said the economic outlook for 2023 is uncertain, with a lot of variables in play, including the Federal Reserve’s decisions on further interest rate increases.

“There’s still a fair bit of strength in this economy, when you look at the job numbers coming in,” Classen said.

There are also some signs of weakness, including layoffs in the high-tech industry, he added. “I think it will be a transitional year for a lot of companies.”

About 35 employees, including officers and administrators, will work in FirstBank’s downtown location. FirstBank, founded in 1963, has approximately 2,700 employees in Colorado and 2,900 overall.

The company has locations in the Phoenix area and California. Its headquarters and main campus are in Lakewood.

FirstBank has a robust branch network and recognizes that in-person engagement is important to its employees as well as its customers and partners, Classen said. One of its partners is the Community First Foundation, which teamed up with FirstBank in 2010 to launch Colorado Gives Day.

The one-day, online philanthropic initiative has raised more than $415 million for more than 3,000 Colorado nonprofits, according to FirstBank.

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