Shiny, Happy Places

Denver’s most compelling residential areas have something more appealing—and more meaningful—than uncertain appreciation values: They offer a true sense of community.

May 2011

Smart Choices: The New Math

The tumult of the past few years means there are more renters than ever—which actually could be a positive sign for Denver’s growth.

As long as any of us can remember, the much-revered and mythologized American dream revolved around owning a home, and securing a mortgage was as much a rite of passage as getting married or having children.

Like so many other truisms that have crumbled during this long downturn, the wisdom and necessity of home ownership have been recast. Today, more people than ever, motivated by choice or circumstance, are choosing to rent rather than own.

Count Ken Schroeppel among those who think this is a promising trend. Schroeppel is an urban planner at Matrix Design Group and also runs denverinfill.com and denverurbanism.com, two blogs that track and assess local development projects. Schroeppel says the rental vacancy rate in Denver is the lowest it’s been in about 10 years, due mostly to the influx of people who have endured foreclosures or, for whatever reason, just aren’t ready to buy. He also says several new construction projects downtown are likely to be rentals rather than for-purchase condos. “When you look at other cities with substantial downtown populations, the rental market is the majority,” he says. “So this trend is not necessarily a bad thing for us. It could be a sign that Denver is on its way to becoming a more urban city.”