Where to Buy (Even) Now
Sure, things are tough around Denver, but good options exist—if you know where to look. We've found 14 neighborhoods offering safe bets in a shaky market. Plus, real estate insiders dish on up-and-coming areas where deals abound.
Boundaries: 38th Avenue, 48th Avenue, Sheridan Boulevard, Federal Boulevard
The Neighborhood: The Berkeley neighborhood has been riding the coattails of the Highland 'hood for years—until now. Bookended by beautiful parks with lakes—Berkeley Lake and Rocky Mountain Lake—the area's big trees, sidewalk culture, older homes, and diversity of residents appeal to young families, first-time home buyers, and an older set that has been in the area for years. Of course, the Tennyson Street retail district stands at the center of the neighborhood's renaissance. With an ever-expanding set of shops and eateries, like Strut boutique, Mouthfuls, Parisi, DJ's Berkeley Cafe, the French Flat, and Big Hoss BBQ, Tennyson serves as a hip and funky neighborhood anchor. Plus, area options include Café Brazil for date night and Sunflower Market for organic and gourmet foodstuffs. The community's location is hard to beat, with direct access to I-70 and an easy 10-minute commute downtown. Although Berkeley has safely made it past the "emerging 'hood" days, it's still a little ragged around the edges; smart buyers will want to be at least one full block off 38th Avenue (it's noisy and attracts a rougher crowd) and 48th (which butts up against I-70). The primo spots rest between 40th and 44th, within two or three blocks of Tennyson.
Why It's a Safe Bet: It shares boundaries—and therefore some cachet—with the hip Highland area, but with a more affordable price point. There are plenty of housing options, including scrapes, lofts, row houses, and a cadre of fixer-upper bungalows and solid '50s ranches. While less architecturally consistent and charming than nearby Harkness Heights and Highland, the neighborhood has quiet, pleasant streets. A burgeoning retail, restaurant, and arts scene means that most everything is walkable.
Average Sale Price: $274,000; 5 percent increase from 2006 to 2007
Neighborhood Organization: www.berkeleyparkneighbors.com
Meet a Neighbor: Will Kimmal
Former owner French Flat
Neighborhood Resident: 5 years
Loves: “We always lived in Southeast Denver (Arapahoe Boulevard and Holly Street) and this is more like a neighborhood or a town. Here you meet your neighbors, people walk their dogs and their babies, and it’s quiet.”
Doesn’t love: “They are scrapping the old houses and building new apartments, which are larger and grander. It changes the tenor of the neighborhood. A lot of the houses are quaint and different and these new buildings just don’t fit.”
Advice to Prospective Buyers: “Walk and take the bus. We wanted some place where we could walk to the supermarket or bus stop. Here you can go anywhere you need without taking out a car. Even when I’m going downtown to a Rockies game, I can take the bus.”
Best Bites: Parisi’s Cartoccio di Coccoli