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.