This has always been one of my favorite properties in LoHi (if you own 3310 Shoshone, I would love a tour), so I’m glad that it is getting some love on one of my favorite sites. It’s #16.
It would be an understatement to say that one had been living under a rock the last few years if they weren’t aware of the controversy going on in Highland Square. Yard signs (of which I have spotted fewer over the last year) dot almost every yard as you get closer to the intersection of 32nd Ave and Lowell Blvd. “NO HIGH RISES In West Highland” is prominently displayed in bold white letters on black. Quite intimidating. But is the development by RedPeak Properties worth the fight? Is it going to ruin the historical integrity of the West Highland neighborhood?
For starters, I think it is important to understand where the neighborhood group, No High Rises in West Highland, stands. Their mission states that they are not anti-development, but rather they just want to make sure development will stay in line with the character of the community. Given that the site, and neighborhood for that matter, have changed and adapted countless times over the history of the neighborhood, I don’t see this as a large enough concern to stifle development. What appears to be the real issue at hand, is that residents don’t want more congestion along the streets and their mountain views (which are non-existent from street level) to disappear.
A white paper put out in June 2009 by the National Association of Home Builders suggests that the impact, at least economically, of a multi-family building (or in this case, buildings) will be positive on the surrounding local community. They estimate that per 100 rental units (there will be 147 units for RedPeak’s West Highland development) there will be economic impact in three phases. The sum of the first two phases (Phase 1: Direct and Indirect Impact of Construction Activity; & Phase 2: Induced [Ripple] Effect of Spending the Income and Taxes from Phase I) will lead to $7.9M in local income, $827k in taxes and 122 local jobs. When applied to the West Highland development, those numbers go to $11.6M in local income, $1.2M in taxes and 179 local jobs (I am aware that the report is from 2009 and that these figures are estimates). Phase 3 of the process (Ongoing, Annual Effect that Occurs When New Homes are Occupied) suggests that the development will lead to $2.2M of local income, $395k in taxes and 32 local jobs (or, $3.2M in local income, $580k in taxes and 47 local jobs for the 147 unit West Highland project).
Economic impact aside, is either party “right” in this issue? Do the residents’ have valid arguments about congestion? I believe so (you can read a memo from the City of Denver on the parking/traffic situation in Highland Square as of January 2012, supported by volunteer gathered data, not from a licensed traffic engineer, here). Is the historical integrity and charm of the neighborhood in peril? In this case, no. It is no mistake that RedPeak chose the location that they did to develop. The demand to live in Highland Square is off the charts. What we really have here are resident’s that have been bitten by the NIMBY bug (they say so themselves).
RedPeak has taken a ton of community input into account. They are not building the maximum allowable structure, they have listened to residents’ concerns about retail on Meade Street and they have designed what will be a beautiful apartment building that will fit will into the mix of historical and contemporary buildings in the neighborhood. So, will there be more people around? Yes. Will it be worth it for the neighborhood? Absolutely.
I get asked this question a lot. Until recently, I would point to physical examples of redevelopment to help clients see why a particular property would be a safe bet (actual scrapes and new construction, or properties that have been rehabilitated). Of late, I have started using the zoning code to help clients see why they should consider purchasing a particular property. I have always looked to the zoning code on a particular property once a client has shown interest, but only for that property (ex. they want to split the lot, they want to turn the basement into another unit, etc.). The Denver zoning code, redone in 2010, is much more comprehensive now than it ever was, and it is very easy to understand a property’s potential with just a few minutes spent researching it’s code.
It can sometimes be hard to articulate why a certain block is a “hub” of the neighborhood. Sure, there may be restaurants on it, or there may be new construction, or the average sold price might be up 10% year over year, but some people still can’t see the potential future value of a piece of real estate. Here is an example of what my partners and clients look to when considering purchasing a property with the intent to hold it for a while (we focus on proximity to mixed use/main street/urban center zoning, if in an area of primarily single/double unit lots, and we look for lots zoned mixed use/main street/urban center that might currently have a single family unit on it):
The yellow on the map is zoned U-TU-B or U-TU-B2, meaning that if the lot size meets the minimum requirements set forth by the city, you can put a duplex on it (or carriage house, basement unit, etc.). The red and dashed red areas are what we focus on. Those are the the mixed use (solid red) and main street (dashed red) zoned lots. The number following the code (U-MX-3 for example, what my house is zoned) tells you how many stories you can build up to. So, when you look at the heart of LoHi around Hirshorn Park, it is easy to see why over the last couple years there has been so much development of tall multi-family units. This is exactly what the city wanted and intended.
To get back to the original question of where to buy in LoHi, I suggest looking to be in close proximity to the Tejon and Navajo corridors. Driving up Tejon today as opposed to a year ago, it is easy to see the development (there are currently five projects being constructed/redone between 33rd and 38th) in action. While the eastern part of LoHi has been a bit slower to transition, it will not stay that way forever. There is already the art district on Navajo (home of the lovely Bug Theatre), and a ton of potential thanks to the Denver zoning code. The red areas are going to be the hubs of redevelopment, so if you are considering LoHi for a purchase, consider proximity to those areas.
So there are few things that don’t go our way living in LoHi or West Highlands. We have some of the best restaurants in town. Some of the coolest bars. Great parks. Hole-in-wall coffee shops. Overpriced gyms. But no grocery store. How can this be?
For starters, there is a lack of commercial space. There are tons of “main street” spots that work well for smaller restaurants and boutiques, but very few lots that would be able to accomodate a retail grocer. My girlfriend and I are constantly pointing out spots that we feel would be great for a King Soopers, but there always seems to be a catch. Bad access from main roads. Historic buildings on the lot. Too many separate lots that would need to come together for there to be adequate space. There just isn’t room.
Here comes the part where you go, “but wait, Mason, there’s a Safeway on Federal and 26th!” To you I say poo poo. For no apparent reason, Safeway has decided to charge more for the exact same produce and products that you can get at any grocer (see why Safeway is overpriced). It is for this reason that I will not shop there, unless it is an absolute emergency.
So, that leaves me with a 2.2 mile drive to the nearest King Soopers (there is a King Soopers on 38th and Sheridan, or 9th and Speer. Both are equidistant from me, however I have to deal with city traffic to get to the one on 9th and Speer). And no one should have to drive 2.2 miles to the grocery store in the city.
Solution? I am sure you have noticed the many new apartment and multi-family projects that have come into the neighborhood in the last year (Highland Park and Prospect on Central to name a couple). Instead of putting in restaurants that are open from 2pm to 10pm, or another yoga studio, why not put a grocer in here? The amount of space might not be adequate for King Soopers, but Tony’s or Marczyk’s would fit in great. They would be constantly packed from the foot traffic. The best part? We wouldn’t have to drive 2.2 miles in rush hour to get ingredients for dinner, because who likes grocery shopping anyway?
This is both a follow up post to one earlier this year on a new brewery in the neighborhood, as well as how it affects my life. Since opening late this summer, Prost has been a hit (I base success off of how my taste buds react) both with pallets and crowds. I have now made a handful of walks down to the place, and every time I have enjoyed myself. Here’s my breakdown of their brews (keeping in mind I am not a beer sommelier):
-Prost Pils. Pilsners are not my favorite beers to begin with, but a good one here and there is all right. Prost’s tastes almost exactly as their description suggests. It is a very smooth beer that has a delightfully bitter finish. Not as bold as Pilsner Urquell, but distinct nonetheless.
-Weißier (Hefeweizen). Hands down my favorite of Prost’s brews. Make sure you get a Maß, because you’ll want that much. Every time I drink Prost’s hef, I picture my stomach giving me a big hug for sending him this deliciousness.
-Prost Dunkel. Definitely an acquired taste, Prost’s dunkel is the perfect beer for a cold day. It’s rich in flavor, and I don’t think you could handle more than one.
-Prost Oktoberfest. I have never been to Munich, so this is subject to change, but this is my favorite Oktoberfest I have ever tasted. I went to GABF this year, and this one still takes the cake. It’s flavorful and crisp. Great for autumn evenings.
Best part about Prost may be the atmosphere. Always lively, food truck on site (later in the week and weekends) and a large open space make for some good times. Love cruising down there to meet friends at the end of the workday and walking home after. C’est la vie.
Let me start by saying I love Rosa Linda’s. If you haven’t been there yet (33rd and Tejon), then you are missing out. We start every meal there off with their cactus nachos (top on the menu of apps, official name has “Wall Street Journal” in it). It’s a huge plate, but if you have 3+ people it won’t spoil any appetites. Their burritos are delicious, but if you are there in season, try the calabacitas; awesome vegetable stir fry that I like to add pork to to make it heartier.
A review of my favorite Mexican restaurant’s food is not why I am writing today. Not sure if you have seen the article on Westword yet, but it is great. Mitt Romney is in town, as you know, for the debate tomorrow evening at DU. Wanting to fit in with the common folk, he decided to grab lunch at Chipotle yesterday (scope the photo with the employees, classic). For a quick meal on the go, Chipotle can’t be beat (I am a fiend for their salads), but stopping at a national chain isn’t exactly the best way to get across that you can relate to Denverites by dining at their favorite restaurants. You need something note worthy, but off the beaten path. Turns out Romney’s campaign had exactly this in mind, and in August they tried to set up a visit to Rosa Linda’s. They thought that the fact the owners are Latter Day Saints would easily get them in the door (George W. was denied a similar request in 2000). Wrong. The campaign should’ve done their homework, because the owners aren’t members of the GOP either.
When asked by Westword if Rosa Linda’s would ever serve President Obama, Oscar Aguirre, the oldest son of the family that owns the restaurant, said, “We would love to have him. Absolutely.” Sounds like a great place to grab a bite after Obama’s rally at Sloan’s Lake tomorrow.
Forbes has recently come out with a list of the top hipster neighborhoods in the country. Not sure that anyone wants to be on this list, but you’ll be happy to know that we’ve made it! Phew, glad that’s over. How they tried to justify the list by numbers (they may have been close with their picks, but the justification is laughable) consisted of high walkability, number of coffee shops and food trucks, frequency of farmers markets, locally owned restaurants and bars and how many residents participate in the arts. Sounds like oodles of insider information went into this article. After reviewing their list, my takeaway is that in order for a neighborhood to be considered “hipster”, it must have been, at one point, fairly dilapidated and dodgy. Add an influx of money, and bam, you have a hipster’s paradise. If, as the article states, going to indie shows, eating healthy, drinking good coffee and being social are considered traits of a hipster, then sign me up. Not sure we’ll ever be able to top Portland or Austin, but in the mean time, stay slightly classy LoHi.
If you live in Denver these days, it seems that you will be spending some time (if not all of it) in LoHi. There’s great restaurants, cool bars, gorgeous scenery, and typically friends. That’s how it has played out for my girlfriend and I (who bought our first house at the end of June, whoop whoop). Over the past year, we’ve been lucky enough to have a huge chunk of our close friends move within a couple blocks here and there of our new house. Even though this might feel a bit like college, now that we’re old with jobs, it’s the furthest thing from it (although we try to make up for that on weekends).
Since we’ve now been in our new house for over two months, some of the dust (literally) is starting to settle. With it, I have been trying to articulate why it is I so enjoy living here. For starters, I am no longer going through gas like there’s a leak in my car (I used to live near DTC). With a bulk of my job focusing on this area, and when Lyss was up here, I was going through multiple tanks a week at times. Not seeing the pump as much is great, but that’s not all there is to it.
Getting home from work late, tired and not wanting to cook no longer requires a 10 minute drive to find eats. It’s so satisfying being able to walk to some of the best restaurants in town (Gaetano’s, now open after the remodel, is still delicious albeit a tad too hip, and a 1/2 block away). The little Mexican restaurants that have been around forever are, for the most part, delicious (Chili Verde is a block from us, but we decided not to try it after their piss poor health rating in Westword). Or, if we are wanting to hang out with the yuppies of the area, there’s plenty of options.
There are countless activities to attend as well (it seemed this summer that every block had their own music festival at some point, along with the many other gatherings/parties put on, Freak train every month, etc.) And then it struck me. What makes everything about this neighborhood come together is the people. Without everyone, there as just pretty empty houses and commercial buildings. It is the people that add their own charm and touch to them all, whether it be the 100 year old building that houses the coffee shop, or the ultra modern, overly priced, gym. Even the King Soopers (I know, technically it’s Wheat Ridge) is different. The butcher? Best around. The guy who cares to the produce department? Probably the most helpful grocery store employee I’ve ever met (ask for anything and it will be there in four days). It would only make sense that most of your neighbors are this great as well, seeing as how they are the owners and employees of the places. There is such a rich blend of cultures and socio-economic standing in Highlands, that really makes this place what it is.
At this point, it feels like I am rambling. I am going to start doing some posts on specific reasons/instances as to why I love this neighborhood, and if you have any of your own, feel free to send them my way and we’ll get them up.
Ahh, Friday! How good it is to see you old friend. The only thing better than Friday is… happy hour(s) (I have never seen it, but I imagine any place that only offers specials for one hour either has no patrons or a bank run at 5pm every day). There are lots of options in LoHi for happy hour, but my absolute favorite is at Pasquini’s.
So what makes this happy hour (they call it happier hour) the happiest? Oh, just a little thing I call INSANITY! First and absolutely foremost, Pasquini’s Highlands has their happier hour EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK! None of this nonsense about not having happy hour on Saturday or Sunday. And, it’s not just the fact that they have it every day that makes it great, they have it TWICE every day. Breathe deep, I know this is hard to fathom. Ready? Ok, here are the details: Monday through Friday is 4pm-6pm & 9pm-11pm (they take care of those that work late, well). Weekends: 11am-6pm & 9pm-11pm. I believe their business model is to get everyone too drunk to leave.
I am having a hard time getting over the fact that whenever I want to go to Pasquini’s, it’s happy hour. Pinch. So what do they serve? Only $5 pitchers of Bud Light, $10 pitchers of craft brews (good luck beating that anywhere else), $1 one-topping slices, $4 meatball
sliders (my favorite) and so many other things that it pains me to think about them before having lunch:
- $1 pizza slices, one topping
- $4 meatball sliders
- $4 eggplant rotoli
- $5 Pitchers of Bud Light
- $10 Pitchers of Craft Beer
- $1 Cans of PBR
- $2 Pints of Bud Light
- $3 Pints of Signature Draft Beers
- $3 Premium Wells
- $3 Margaritas
- $3 Glasses of Red or White Wines
- $3 Glasses of Housemade Sangria
- $7 Bottles of Housemade Sangria
Not only are they providing happy hour nearly all hours of the day, they have also recognized how many adults miss ordering happy meals. They have the “Highland Happy Meal” which consists of a one-topping slice, PBR and a premium well shot (after that you won’t care that it didn’t come with a toy).
Go drink and be merry!
It’s almost impossible not to notice that something has been going on, or better in, at 19th & Central recently. What better use for a vacant building than… a brewery! Yes, this place just got that much better.
What makes Prost (the soon-to-be brewery inhabiting 2540 19th) different? They will only be serving German style beers (a dunkel, a hefeweizen and a pils), brewed in equipment purchased from a German brewer that shut it’s doors last year. After a long journey across the Atlantic, the 72.25-barrel brewhouse will have a new home. 72.25?! That seems like a lot of capacity for a brewery only making 3 (and a seasonal) styles of beer. That is because it is. Prost will also contract brewing for companies that are unable to meet the demand for their own brews
The German feel doesn’t just come from the equipment and the brews to be served, but also from the planned taproom, beer garden and the copious amounts of beer you will be drinking from your Maß (abbreviated from Maßkrug of course). These things hold a litre of beer. Not all of Prost’s brews will be consumed onsite though; the brewery plans to supply some local liquor stores with their creations as well.
So get excited LoHi. We have plenty of craft-brew startups in the Denver area, now it’s time for some good, old-fashioned German beer. Water, barley and hops. Long live the Reinheitsgebot! Prost!