Friday, May 28, 2010

5280's Annual Guide to the Hottest Neighborhoods in Denver

In normal years, assessing Denver's hottest neighborhoods is pretty predictable business. Of course, 2010 is, and 2009 was, anything but normal. As the Mile High City—and the nation—begins the slow recovery from the housing crisis, many of the city's most desirable neighborhoods have seen marked corrections. That's not a bad thing, per se, as these communities (think East Wash Park, University Park, and Country Club) are still highly sought after, even if the sales data aren't quite as rosy as they've been in the past. The good news, though, is that the benefactors of these micro-market corrections are, mostly, the areas around the city's classic neighborhoods—and the long-term effect of this phenomenon will be to expand Denver's overall livability. Whether you're buying, selling, or staying put this year, these are the places to be in Denver right now.


One of the few neighborhoods in this exclusive part of town where prices actually appreciated in the past year. This lush oasis (think ranch-style homes and quiet streets that don't conform to the city's grid) in central Denver draws a higher-end dweller—primarily families and empty-nesters with the taste and income for the finer things. Still, Belcaro offers relative bargains to luxury-market homebuyers, although sellers should be patient: Listed homes spent 183 days on market (DOM) last year, compared to a citywide average of 97. Average sale price $845,000
+8% over 2009

Washington Park West

This slightly hipper, grittier alternative to Wash Park East (average sale price: $654,000) has all the access to its neighbor's amenities, but at a far lower cost. This primarily residential neighborhood is surrounded by numerous retail districts, whether new (Pearl Street, north of I-25) or revitalizing (South Broadway). Lately, more young couples and families have been landing in the area to take advantage of its leafy streets, reasonably priced housing that hasn't been as overwhelmed by scrapes and duplexes as have some of its neighbors, and, of course, the neighborhood's biggest draw, Wash Park itself, which teems with activity even during the chilly winter months. Average sale price $395,000
+1% over 2009

Berkeley West/Regis

The Highland boom spreads north and west as Denverites take advantage of the area's easy access to I-70 and the mountains, along with the ongoing development of the Tennyson Street corridor. The Regis University campus, the funky-cool old-school Lakeside Amusement Park, and lots of green space and architecturally interesting new or remodeled homes make these adjacent 'hoods most attractive to couples and young families who might be priced out of Highland but still want to be close to the action of Highlands Square and the 32nd Avenue and Zuni intersection. Average sale price (Berkeley) $283,000, +8% over 2009
Average sale price (Regis) $212,000, +11% over 2009

Park Hill East

The low prices and proximity to City Park, bike trails, and the rest of Park Hill have made this neighborhood of well-kept, single-family Tudors and bungalows an attractive, affordable alternative to other east-side areas such as Hale and Hilltop. PHE is dotted with small shopping districts and a variety of quaint restaurants serving Italian, Thai, soul food, breakfast—you name it. With quick access to shopping in Stapleton, this neighborhood will appeal to anyone looking for an entry- or mid-level home that's bound to appreciate over the next several years. Average sale price $204,000
+5% over 2009

Sunnyside East

We've been touting this neighborhood for years as an up-and-comer, and it's finally arriving as a focal point for homebuyers who want to get in on the northwest Denver boom. True, it's a bit grittier than its more expensive neighbors, but it lures cutting-edge types who are willing to endure the "refinement" process rather than wait until everything has been upgraded (and potentially overpriced). Sunnyside's unusually affordable homes—lots of modest bungalows—mean inventory is low, so buyers must be prepared to act fast. Average sale price $181,000
+13% over 2009

Sloan's Lake West

Between the burgeoning Edgewater commercial district, Sloan's Lake East, and Highland, the area around Denver's biggest lake is fast becoming the go-to 'hood for people who want quiet surroundings with easy access to downtown, northwest Denver's shopping and nightlife, or quick mountain getaways. The lake itself—which not long ago was a place to avoid after dark—has become a landing spot for joggers, boaters, and water skiers, and the sleepy surrounding streets make the neighborhood attractive to families with children. Average sale price $341,000
+9% over 2009

Jefferson Park

This cozy enclave still has a rich Latino heritage and provides a lower-cost option—with equal access to northwest Denver's amenities and striking views of downtown—than the more established Highland neighborhood to the north. The Speer and I-25 borders funnel traffic around the area rather than through it, which makes the streets surprisingly quiet, day and night, and many of the modest homes are ripe for remodeling or flipping. Despite the area's proximity to Invesco, the chaos is minimal on football Sundays thanks to a well-run traffic-management plan, and JP's average of 46 DOM shows how quickly its properties are moving. Average sale price $260,000
+9% over 2009

Congress Park South

Along with its neighbor Congress Park North, this was one of the few areas in central Denver where values appreciated last year. One of downtown Denver's first "suburbs," CPS is now one of the oldest and most desirable and vibrant neighborhoods in the city, with many remodeled Victorian-era homes. It has become a vortex around which couples, families young and old, hipsters, and yuppie singletons revolve. The 'hood is also near the quietly luxurious Cheesman Park and Denver Botanic Gardens, giving the whole area a neighborly, walkable—yet still urban—feel. Average sale price $445,000
+9% over 2009
(Source: 5280)