Established, old pushed out for trendy, new
Economic growth shifts culture of neighborhoods
Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 01:02
The past decade has brought a lot of growth for the city of Denver, but it is no secret that the emerging hipness of the city has started shifts in the ethnic and socio-economic makeup of some of Denver’s oldest neighborhoods, affecting the local economies in ways that aren’t always beneficial to their established residents.
“[Sloane’s Lake] neighborhood is almost segregated,” said CU Denver psychology major Jordan Long. “West of the lake is mainly lower end apartment complexes and broken down houses. Right by it, there is this quaint shopping area with boutiques.”
Just northwest of downtown, the Highlands neighborhoods, one of the oldest parts of Denver, has shifted from a lower-income Latino and Italian hub to an increasingly Anglo-American upper-middle class demographic, with old houses being replaced by swanky modern architecture.
Although this construction and expansion has brought more business to Highlands, it has also increased rents dramatically.
In November the original location of Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli, along the chic strip of 32nd Avenue in West Highland, closed due to a dispute with the landlord. Just a couple blocks away, Common Grounds will be moving out after 20 years because of a 40 percent increase in rent and extensive remodel requirements.
As the Highlands neighborhoods are in the peak of transition to higher income and more gentrified culture, the Five Points neighborhood, northeast of Downtown, is also beginning the process of economic and aesthetic revitalization.
In September of 2012, the Denver City Council approved a plan for the urban redevelopment of Five Points. According to The Denver Post, the plan to renew Five Points has sparked concerns among locals who worry that economic development will force out the established African American culture that Five Points has always been the hub of in Denver. Chairman Seku of the Black Star Action Movement of Denver told The Denver Post that the plan would cause businesses and locals to “sell and move out.”
Along with economic transitions, the ethnic makeup of areas tends to change. Five Points is shifting from a predominantly black neighborhood to one that has increasing Hispanic and White populations. Northwest Denver—including the Highlands neighborhoods and the less wealthy Sunnyside and Berkely—has become more and more White in recent years as it’s developed into trendy hubs for young families.
As some established businesses get pushed out by increasing rent in areas like West Highland, other rejuvenating areas see an influx of creative culture. River North district, for example, is growing into a center for Denver artists at the same time as developers are installing hip middle-class apartment buildings.
Despite some of the cultural and historic implications of gentrification and socio-economic and ethnic shifts in the neighborhoods of Denver, these transitions are nearly inevitable as an older city like Denver grows into a more vital urban center.
“It’s not Denver’s fault,” said UCD student Oscar Solis. “Denver’s always been here. People come and go. The reason old places are becoming hipper is because of new people coming in.”