Feature

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

East Washington Park

Microhood: South Gilpin Street between Arizona and Mississippi avenues

Why: No question about it—some of the homes that ring Wash Park are among Denver’s crown jewels of real estate. On the other hand, the sheer volume of foot, car, and bike traffic the park receives must be a bit of a headache for the locals now and then. For less bustle and (a little) less dough, go one block off the park to South Gilpin, where the homes are luxurious without being ostentatious. The east side of the street has more original, smaller brick bungalows than the west side’s scrape-laden lineup, but they all blend together in a tidy, tasteful package. And the nearby park means residents sometimes have such charming local color as geese strolling by to nip at their lawns. “This is still one of Denver’s classic, established neighborhoods,” 8z’s Finney says. “You’re close to the park; Old South Gaylord with its eateries, yoga studios, coffee and bike shops; and Bonnie Brae Ice Cream.”

Stats: (East Washington Park) Average sale price $581,000, -14.2 percent over January 2010

South City Park

Microhood: Steele Street between 16th and 17th avenues

Why: The revitalized City Park area has been drawing new crops of hipsters and professionals for the past several years, which in turn has freshened up the once-seedy, still-gritty, but ever-evolving Colfax Avenue corridor. This block spills right into the park and features a picturesque collection of Denver Squares, brownstones, and a high-rise apartment building called Montview Manor, all on lots that are set back from the curb. The street itself is wider than most north-south blocks in this neighborhood, giving it a more open and pleasing airiness. “This area has a true ‘heartbeat of the city’ feel to it,” says 8z Real Estate’s Patrick Finney.

Stats: (City Park) Average sale price $361,000, +1.4 percent over January 2010

Hilltop

Microhood: Glencoe Street between Third and Fourth avenues

Why: This gently curving street is wide and quiet, and the grandly appointed homes—the scrapes and midcentury houses seem like they’ve stylishly co-existed forever—fill up their lots and reside somewhat snugly together. But rather than appearing cramped, the layout suggests a strong sense of community compared to some of the more spacious and suburban-feeling surrounding blocks. What’s more, Glencoe feeds right into the charming Robinson Park and the tony Denver Tennis Club, giving the street a vibe that’s both elite and inviting. “I think at one point many sellers truly believed they could get Malibu pricing in this area,” says Liz Richards, a broker with Kentwood City Properties. “But after an abysmal few years, we’re finally seeing movement in this area, thanks to strategic price drops and pent-up demand.”

Stats: (Hilltop) Average sale price $761,000, -9.1 percent over January 2010

Five Points/Curtis Park

Microhood: Curtis Street between 25th and 30th streets

Why: This historic district has a colorful mix of hipsters and yuppies, as well as a few dozen spectacular and surprisingly well-kept brownstones, bungalows, and Victorians reminiscent of old San Francisco. This five-block section sits in the rapidly developing corridor between downtown and the burgeoning Five Points commercial and arts district (and its light rail line) and has easy access to freeways. As the heat from downtown’s core spreads north and east, many real estate professionals have pegged this area as Denver’s next hot neighborhood. “This area will be a great mid- to long-term opportunity,” says 8z’s Ryan Carter. “The area around the Welton Street business district is poised to become another Platt Park or Highland-type neighborhood.”

Stats: (Five Points) Average sale price $283,000, +14.9 percent over January 2010

Lower Highland (LoHi)

Microhood: Shoshone Street between 33rd and 34th avenues

Why: The difference between Shoshone’s scrapes and others is that the former don’t look like they were airlifted in from a suburban subdivision; they blend perfectly with the renovated older homes (mostly bungalows) to give the area a lived-in vibe. And the block is just steps away from Denver’s hottest bar and restaurant area; LoHi seemingly has its own tractor beam, pulling in new businesses and residents by the barrelful and creating the kind of destination that’s beginning to draw national attention. “The neighborhood is booming,” says Kentwood City Properties’ Liz Richards. “There’s a bigger drive than ever for new construction since most of the past inventory has been absorbed, and the walkability combined with its culinary notoriety continue to make this a very in-demand hot spot.”

Stats: (Highland East) Average sale price $317,000, +12.2 percent over January 2010

Alamo Placita

Microhood: Emerson Street between Speer Boulevard and Fourth Avenue

Why: Tucked into a cozy triangle just off the perpetual hum of Speer Boulevard, Alamo Placita was the home of legendary Denver Mayor Robert Speer in the late-1800s and of future Colorado Governor Richard Lamm in the 1960s. The small park at the historic district’s center is ringed by simple yet elegant bungalows, along with more modern apartment buildings and condos. The area is a short walk from Governor’s Park and the emerging collection of restaurants and shops along Sixth and Seventh avenues; it offers a quick getaway to downtown via Speer and the Cherry Creek trail; and it’s closer to the city than Wash Park, but with lower prices.

Stats: (Speer) Average sale price $335,000, -2.3 percent over January 2010

East Cheesman Park

Microhood: Race Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues

Why: This stunning street is just steps away from the placid Cheesman Park in the Morgan’s Subdivision Historic District. The homes sit on unusually large lots for this part of town and are an appealing mix of classic and modern, many of them enhanced with strikingly detailed trim and unique window treatments. Given the street’s serene location and nearness to several commercial districts and parks—not just Cheesman—this might be the nicest block in central Denver.

Stats: (Cheesman Park) Average sale price $429,000, -8.2 percent over January 2010

Arapahoe Acres

Microhood: East Cornell Avenue between South Marion and South Franklin streets

Why: This stunning enclave is technically an eyelash over the city line, in Englewood, but we’re claiming it anyway, because it might be the metro area’s most distinct neighborhood. Arapahoe Acres was the first post-World War II residential subdivision to be listed as a historic district. Its Frank Lloyd Wright–inspired homes evoke images of Art Deco masters and California sunshine, and most of the earth-tone houses are adorned with modern art sculptures in their yards. The area even has its own stylized street signs. Just minutes from the University of Denver campus, this neighborhood is the most arresting and unusual setting south Denver has to offer.

Stats: (University) Average sale price $308,000, -3.4 percent over January 2010

 

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