Denver is full of great neighborhoods (see here, here, and here for starters), and now one of its potential hidden gems could be in for a much-needed makeover.

This week, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced a $1.8 billion project that would re-route the stretch of I-70 between Brighton and Colorado boulevards. The plan would run the interstate underground for those two miles and create new greenspace above the new tunnel. Construction would begin in 2016.

The biggest beneficiary of the move would be the Swansea neighborhood. Although the area has long hosted the National Western Stock Show, the highway has created a barrier that divides Swansea from nearby River North (RiNo) and downtown. As a result, residential real estate has struggled to thrive in a city where most other neighborhoods are beginning to bustle again as we emerge from the economic downturn.

A small group of citizens and activists are pushing for an alternative plan that would re-route I-70 closer to the I-270/I-76 corridor, arguing that such a move would spur even greater economic development in the area.

Our verdict? Yes. As details, costs, and hurdles for each plan emerge, the smarter approach should become clear. In the meantime, we’re just glad to see something happening in Swansea. The areas around the I-70/I-25 junction contain some of the most promising untapped real estate in Denver. Making Swansea more appealing to residential and commercial investors would also hasten the improvement of RiNo, Five Points, and the Brighton corridor. At a time when local housing inventory is nearing record lows, we need all the cool new neighborhoods we can get.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

—Follow 5280 articles editor Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.