Op-Ed: Downtown Denver's Homogenous Renaissance

There's a lot to like about the resurgence of downtown cores. But as is the case elsewhere, Denver's core has only attracted a small subset of the wider city's population. Most people still call the suburbs home.

1 minute read

June 19, 2018, 1:00 PM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc


17th Street, Denver, Colorado

Ken Lund / Flickr

According to Vincent Carroll, we shouldn't greet the resurgence of downtown Denver with unmitigated celebration. Drawing on the Downtown Denver Partnership's 2018 State of Downtown Denver report, he points out that "by any calculation, downtown Denver's household statistics are a startling outlier — and a reminder that the glib urbanist cliches that have become so commonplace are an impediment to clear thinking about the nature of modern cities."

Since the later decades of the 20th century, Carroll writes, changes in downtown have been a positive for the area. "I'm a fan of much of the change. But that transformation shouldn't be oversold as a general model. As a place to live, it appeals to and is affordable for only a segment of the population. Families and especially families with children look elsewhere."

While many urbanists tend to "sneer at sprawl," Carroll advises greater consideration for the low-density, far-flung neighborhoods where most of the population lives. He cites Steve Hogan, the late mayor of Aurora, Colorado. "His legacy, which includes Aurora Highlands south of DIA with potentially 60,000 future residents, will do far more to meet housing demand than Denver's ramped-up campaign to subsidize affordable units such as the micro-apartments slated for the old First Avenue Hotel on Broadway."

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