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.

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