Thursday, May 31, 2012

5280's Hot Denver Neighborhoods

5280: On any given night, ask your friends, colleagues, or neighbors what they’re doing and where they’re going, and chances are the word “Highlands” will be part of the answer. Maybe they’ll be dining on pork steamed bao at the hotter-than-hot Linger, or grabbing a Negroni at the hipper-than-hip Williams & Graham. Maybe they’ll be canoodling over glasses of Burgundy at Z Cuisine, or downing a burger and a pint of Odell’s Levity Amber Ale at Highland Tap and Burger. Or maybe they’ll be queuing up for a cold treat and a warm night at Little Man Ice Cream. 
What makes Highlands so hot? We polled some Denver real estate pros to determine the factors behind the boom, and in the coming pages we detail which neighborhoods have Highlands-type potential.

Location: The rehabilitation of LoDo in many ways led to the Highlands renaissance. The nationwide new urbanism trend has renewed the appeal of city living, and once Denver erected the Millennium, Platte River, and Highland bridges, the seamless pedestrian and bicycle link between northwest Denver and downtown made it that much easier to walk or bike to work or to LoDo restaurants and recreation. Other neighborhoods, regardless of their proximity to downtown, have followed suit by improving paths for biking and walking or by adding light rail lines to speed commutes and get people out of cars.
Mixing commercial and residential: The once-booming, later-dormant Highlands commercial areas have been revitalized over the past decade. It’s more than just the retail and restaurant hub at Highlands Square; the area is also bubbling over with mini-commercial districts such as 32nd Avenue and Zuni Street, along Tejon Street, and on Tennyson Street between 38th and 45th avenues—stretches with a few eateries or boutiques that break up the residential enclaves and bring in visitors from other parts of town. 
Walkability: Even if you aren’t heading downtown or out to eat, Highlands itself has plenty of attractions for the everyday pedestrian, such as Sloan’s Lake to the west and the Platte River trails to the east. There are plenty of parks—a boon to the growing number of young families in the area—and they’re spread out enough that the nonparents aren’t constantly fighting stroller traffic like in more congested parts of the city. And between historic Victorians, well-kept bungalows, Denver Squares, and vibrant new construction, a walk in Highlands is like a self-guided architectural tour.

LOCATION: Areas with easy access to downtown, other neighborhoods, and freeways.
DOM  (Days on Market): 86, Average Sale Price:  $264,000, Price Change (Year over year from December 2010 to December 2011): + 6 percent
Although Baker seems to have enough amenities to become the next Highlands—from nightlife and inventory to the preponderance of hipsters—it also has limitations such as small lots and occasionally sketchy blocks. “Baker’s a good example of what Highlands was like in 1995,” says Charles Roberts of Your Castle. “It’s wonderfully transitional, but you don’t want to end up in the wrong part of it.”
Ones to Watch
Capitol Hill—DOM 153, Average sale price $423,000, Price change - 2 percent
Curtis Park (Five points)—DOM 117, Average sale price $284,000, Price change 0 percent
MIX OF RETAIL/RESIDENTIAL: Areas that tastefully blend residential comfort with lively retail centers
DOM: 89, Average sale price: $292,000, Price change: + 6 percent
A neighborhood on the rise, thanks to the improving Tennyson Street Cultural District and its proximity to Highlands and freeways. “Tennyson Street gives residents more options than just one or two restaurants or coffee shops, and the area is trending along the lines of Highlands with a mix of new builds and fixer-uppers,” says Liz Richards of Kentwood City Properties.
Ones to Watch
Cherry Creek—DOM 120, Average sale price $814,000, Price change - 7 percent
Platt Park South—DOM 59, Average sale price $394,000, Price change + 5 percent
WALKABILITY:Areas with a variety of attractions within walking distance
DOM 94, Average sale price $432,000, Price change + 1 percent
This area is more than fulfilling its new-urbanist mission, with plenty of parks, an evolving commercial district, and a planned light- rail line. “Stapleton is one area where values have held up, and a lot of new residential and commercial development is going on,” says Lina Krylov of ERA Herman Group Real Estate.
Ones to Watch
Cherry CreekDOM 120, Average sale price $814,000, Price change - 7 percent
Downtown (CONDOS < $500,000)—DOM 87, Average sale price $274,800, Price change  + 1 percent
SPREADING THE WEALTH:Areas whose attractiveness is helping surrounding neighborhoods grow and thrive.
DOM 110, Average sale price $597,000, Price change + 2 percent
This old standby remains as attractive as ever, and its desirability is helping sustain the tonier Belcaro and Cory-Merrill neighborhoods through a tough down period, while extending its reach to areas like University and Virginia Village. “In a neighborhood like Virginia Village, which is right near these areas, you can get a lower price for decent-size lots and a good location,” says Lane Hornung of 8z Real Estate.
Ones to Watch
City Park West—DOM 54, Average sale price $351,000, Price change + 34 percent 
South Park Hill—DOM 76, Average sale price $442,000, Price change + 5 percent