Opening of Denver’s New Freeway Cap Park Triggers Gentrification Fears

Local residents fear rising housing costs and displacement with the opening of a new four-acre park built on a deck bridge over the newly reconstructed and widened I-70 interstate.

1 minute read

December 15, 2023, 7:00 AM PST

By Mary Hammon @marykhammon


Aerial view of the cover park over I-70 and surrounding neighborhood with downtown Denver in background.

After four years of construction, the cover park over I-70 in Denver opened in early December 2023. | Colorado Department of Transportation / Colorado Department of Transportation

Denver’s new four-acre cover park, part of the controversial $1.2 billion reconstruction and widening of Interstate 70, opened earlier this month. The park project was designed to reconnect the long divided Globeville Elyria-Swansea, or GES, neighborhood, a predominantly Latino community in North Denver. “To outsiders, it seemed like a wonderful addition,” writes Raksha Vasudevan, contributing editor at High Country News.

But after four years of construction, 56 demolished homes to make way for the 1,000-foot stretch of widened highway, and $125 million to construct the park itself, local residents are not so sure. According to Vasudevan, by the time the park opened, realtors were already calling GES “Denver’s next hottest neighborhood—a chilling pronouncement for locals to hear,” as, “outside buyers meant higher prices.”

“[R]eimagining old infrastructure often invites unintended consequences. In what’s known as the ‘green space paradox,’ residents who historically lacked access to parks are the most likely to be displaced by rising housing costs once the greenery finally arrives. In central Dallas, a similar highway-capping park completed in 2012 hastened the development of luxury apartments, leading to rents that are among the region’s highest.”

While GES residents agree the community could use more green space—previously, only about 55 acres of parkland existed in the nearly five-square-mile neighborhood—they don’t feel gentrification and displacement is a fair trade-off.

Friday, December 1, 2023 in High Country News

Large blank mall building with only two cars in large parking lot.

Pennsylvania Mall Conversion Bill Passes House

If passed, the bill would promote the adaptive reuse of defunct commercial buildings.

April 18, 2024 - Central Penn Business Journal

Aerial view of Oakland, California with bay in background

California Exodus: Population Drops Below 39 Million

Never mind the 40 million that demographers predicted the Golden State would reach by 2018. The state's population dipped below 39 million to 38.965 million last July, according to Census data released in March, the lowest since 2015.

April 11, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

A view straight down LaSalle Street, lined by high-rise buildings with an El line running horizontally over the street.

Chicago to Turn High-Rise Offices into Housing

Four commercial buildings in the Chicago Loop have been approved for redevelopment into housing in a bid to revitalize the city’s downtown post-pandemic.

April 10, 2024 - Chicago Construction News

Purple jacaranda trees in bloom in Los Angeles with tall white Art Deco buildings in background.

LA County Releases Draft Community Forest Management Plan

LA County's Chief Sustainability Office just released the discussion draft of Room to Grow, the first Community Forest Management Plan for the county.

3 hours ago - Los Angeles County Chief Sustainability Office

Aerial view of downtown Seattle, Washington at dusk.

Seattle Downtown Plan Expands Permitted Uses

The Downtown Activation Plan shifts from Euclidean to form-based zoning to encourage more commercial development.

5 hours ago - Governing

Large water pipe with brown water pouring out into dirt ditch.

Southern Water Infrastructure at Risk From Climate Impacts

A water main breaks somewhere in the United States every two minutes, according to an estimate from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

7 hours ago - The Conversation

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.