Downtown living in Denver is more popular now than ever. So what’s behind the shift toward urban dwelling?
142%: Percentage that the population of residents living downtown has grown since 2000.
Even during the dark days of the 1980s, when Denver’s downtown economy was at its bleakest, the city center remained a place where people worked. By the late 1990s, with the construction of Coors Field and the redevelopment of LoDo, people came to shop, drink, and eat. It wasn’t until more recently, though, that downtown Denver became a place where people actually wanted to live.
Since 2000, the number of residents living downtown has grown by a whopping 142 percent, driven in part by the fact that Denver is now the nation’s fastest growing city for workers between the ages of 25 and 34. That population growth is only going to continue to soar: More than 5,000 residential units are under construction within a mile and a half of downtown, including projects like the Platform at Union Station and the Row Houses at Jefferson Park (see “Buildings To Watch” at right).
To a large extent, this growth is a result of the light rail expansion and the Union Station redevelopment, which has become a massive magnet for developers—and a huge draw for traffic-averse homebuyers and renters.
But it also has to do with an attitude shift. Businesses now put their offices downtown not just because it’s hip, but because it’s where many of their workers are living. This ends up boosting business for restaurants, bars, and shops, which in turn attract even more people to live and work downtown. “For the second half of the 20th century, people first found a job and then moved [somewhere] convenient to where the job was,” says Ken Schroeppel, a planning instructor at the University of Colorado Denver and founder of the blog DenverInfill. “What you’re seeing now is that the younger generation is flipping that on its head. They’re saying, ‘I want to live where I want to live—and I’ll find a job nearby.’ ” And, for now, that bodes well for the Mile High City’s booming downtown.
Buildings to Watch
The Row Houses at Jefferson Park
Clay St. and Front View Crescent Drive, Jefferson Park
For: Urban buyers who need a little more space
Style: 29 three-floor row homes
Amenities: Third-floor decks, fireplaces, attached two-car garages
Builder: First Western Companies
Opening: Spring 2014
Platform at Union Station
1650 Wewatta St., LoDo
For: Urbanites looking to live in the heart of LoDo
Style: 21-story building, 288 apartments
Cost: Not released
Amenities: 24-hour concierge, fitness club, yoga studio, 15th-floor pool/lounge, ground-floor retail
Builder: Holland Partner Group
Opening: December 2014
2639 17th St., LoHi
For: People who want to enjoy a short walk to—and a stunning view of—downtown
Style: 14 three- and four-bedroom townhomes
Cost: Starting in the mid-$600,000s
Amenities: Rooftop decks, multicar garages
Builder: Chelsea Design and Build
Opening: Summer 2014
—Image courtesy of First Western Companies