The High Cost Of Trendy Neighborhoods

Illustration: Madalyn Drewno


Illustration: Madalyn Drewno

Denver is a booming city.

According to the US Census Bureau, between 2014 and 2015 the population increased by 18,582 people. This means that Denver is one of the most popular places to move to in the nation.

Thanks in no small part to the hot new marijuana industry in Colorado bringing recreational pot to anyone over 21, as well as the comparatively stable economy, the Mile High City has seen a major inf lux of new citizens, and it can’t keep up. While the idea of having new people bringing new dollars to Denver is appealing, a booming population is not without its problems.

Apartment builders are not blind to the fact that Denver is seeing a population boom. No one is more in the know than real-estate developing companies like McWhinny and Conf luent Development who watch the housing market all day every day. These companies understand the “if we build it, they will come” mentality of the Denver housing market today. Not only will new people rent the apartments they build, they will also pay top dollar for them. According to Department of Numbers, between 2005 and 2014, the median apartment rent in Denver increased by $158 compared to the rest of the U.S. at a $68 increase in the same period.

The RiNo art district in Denver has been hit hard by the population increase. Not too many years back the area had affordable housing prices, allowing middle-and lower-income Denverites to find a place to live. However, this is not the case anymore. Apartments are now around $1500 minimum because of the increased popularity of the area.

Many of the art studios have had to find new places to put their storefronts because builders are paying off the landowners to make brand new apartment complexes in the area. “Denver is really booming, which means property values are increasing and that means taxes are also increasing, so some of that is being passed on to artists and there is really not much that can be done about that,” said Valerie Santerli, owner of Rule Gallery, an art studio formerly in the RiNo district. Her gallery had to move to the Santa Fe art district because a new apartment building was being created in its location.

Not only are these new apartments moving smaller businesses away from the area, they are also destroying historic landmarks. The building that housed Rule Gallery was built over 100 years ago and acted as a horse stable in the old west. It is now being demolished so hoards of people can pay top dollar to live in a trendy neighborhood. Many of the companies coming in are not based in Denver and care little for the impact their developments have on the neighborhood. “It’s sad that there are a lot of developers who see nothing but a dollar sign,” Santerli said.

Unfortunately, there is no easy solution to fix the issues that are seen in places like the RiNo arts district, but hopefully the city will take some steps will make these wrongs right.


Dylan Streight
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