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Old 11-05-2011, 12:45 PM
 
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Default Denver/Highlands - Whats the deal?

Just wondering. I moved here thinking I was moving to a "city" environment and putting some of the Boulder baggage behind me. Recently I was engaged by an anti-apartment activist who explained that many people had moved to Highlands from Boulder to live somewhere "quaint". As someone who appreciates Denver's efforts to be sustainable through good urban form and moving from using cars from everything, to having good bicycle, transit and walking opportunities, I felt a bit put off that the anti-urban movement had found its way even into our most urban city. I appreciate things some density brings - like vibrant businesses I can walk to, better transit, mix of ages/people, etc.

To their credit, said activist wasn't against against all apartments, just the densities proposed, and appreciated the "melting pot," so i don't want to blow things out of proportion. But, almost all of Highlands is zoned for low-density, so its not as if apartments are taking over or the character of the neighborhood changing, so I see no need to oppose them on the few sites where they are allowed - we have an apartment shortage here.

I've also heard comments that Highlands will be "rich and white" and get used to it. I was offended by this. I am in a mixed marriage, and am used to living places or attending universities where the upper-middle-class is diverse, including not just white Americans, but immigrants, Asians, Hispanics, Blacks, etc. Friends I know i Highlands are Hispanic or Asian. Yet, I even read a restaurant review referring to the "anglo chefs and owners" and the "Hispanic line cooks" bringing diversity to the 'hood. So, what's the deal? When I was growing up in Texas, it was assumed that Hispanics were represented among business owners, upper management, homeowners, etc., not just labor. I understand "rich and white" is shorthand, but it reveals to me a certain view of the world on the part of the utterer of this phrase ...

Don't get me wrong, I still like the neighborhood and don't think its difficult for anyone to live here. Its just I'm still surprised by some things. I know, I know, we'll always hear things the peeve us, by a few people, and the best thing is to ignore it. This post represents a bit of venting. But, I am confused. Am I in Highlands, or Highlands Ranch?

Last edited by docwatson; 11-05-2011 at 01:15 PM..
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Old 11-05-2011, 01:36 PM
 
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I want to answer your post with a comment that I just made on another thread, Less expensive alternative to Boulder

I was responding to a post that suggest the neighborhoods of Denver, including Highland, are a good place to live.

"...These areas are good areas to live if you want real authentic neighborhoods. However, note that real is not a fake sterile copy of reality. Authentic also means old that is can be "real old" and areas will have tarnishes, defects and have the patina of time. Also some residents can have these same characteristics.

Many times people talk about wanting to live in an area that is authentic, different, unique older homes and neighborhood shops and not "cookie cutter" but their needs are best served by that clean and scrubbed copy, like Bradburn, a new urban community, or a suburban new development. This is not criticism because each have different needs and tolerate less from their desired wants. They may not admit it, but why move to a neighborhood and be unhappy, where your sight will disclose that which is not always your view of perfection..."


I want to expand on this comment. I believe that many people talk the talk about diversity of people and buildings because they want to be part of the "group think" of what they think is sophisticated and cultured, but they really do not want to walk the walk.

They can avoid the realities of diversity of the real building and people by living in expensive new urban areas that mimic and copy an authentic neighborhood without the defects. Another way is to sanitized and scrub older neighborhoods, to have what they really want, but with a fake facade of what it is really not, is to use the "soap" of money to create the cleanliness of exclusivity. So, with this, and the support or opposition to zoning changes, which their money "soap" can buy, they can force those characteristics of structures and people out of the area. They want to live in the city but they do not want it to look and feel like a dense city. Essential they become a "gated" community of pretenders, nice people, but they really will not admit, or actually know their own deception.

I am white, so I know not the problems of being excluded by being of color, but I am disabled. I now show it more and I see people avoiding me and some even show obvious anger and hostility and wanting me to go away (this is big shock to me). I will not fit in their enclaves of perfection but perhaps I will be allowed as a "trophy disabled" just as sometimes are allowed "trophy minorities", as long as we can pay the full price at the gate.

Livecontent

Last edited by livecontent; 11-05-2011 at 01:51 PM..
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Old 11-05-2011, 01:42 PM
 
Location: Berkeley in Denver, CO USA
6,270 posts, read 4,472,386 times
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Default Attack of the NIMBYs

Quote:
Originally Posted by docwatson View Post
...engaged by an anti-apartment activist who explained that many people had moved to Highlands from Boulder to live somewhere "quaint"...said activist wasn't against against all apartments, just the densities proposed.
These "activists" are NIMBYs who were not paying attention when the new zoning code came into place.

Lots of gory details at:

04NOV2011 - Building height doubled at church site
Denver church zoning quickly went from 2 stories to 5 stories | Inside Real Estate News

21OCT2011 - Garcia: New church zoning an improvement
Rick Garcia reflects on controversial church rezoning in Denver's West Highland | Inside Real Estate News

07OCT2011 - 5-story Highland apartments pilloried, praised
RedPeak's plan for 5-story apartments in West Highland called too big | Inside Real Estate News
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Old 11-05-2011, 01:50 PM
 
422 posts, read 618,676 times
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Thanks for your insightful comments as always, Livecontent. Having a family member who is disabled I now understand better the challenges and the need to accommodate us all.

You know, I don't want to be too critical, as my post might seem. Yes, I think some people are looking for that place that feels scrubbed and "safe" for their family. My wife and I did not choose Capitol Hill, I because of the air pollution, and my wife because it was "too urban." So, we are in Highlands ... I never liked cities that feel "dangerous"!

But, I know I have been cities in the U.S. and Canada where 5-story buildings are just part of the scenery and somewhere to live, not something to be fought. Where we talk about walking and cycling and transit, not just about parking. And where diversity is just considered a norm. I always considered these to be positives of being in "the city."
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Old 11-05-2011, 01:53 PM
 
Location: Berkeley in Denver, CO USA
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Default Probably True

Quote:
Originally Posted by docwatson View Post
I've also heard comments that Highlands will be "rich and white" and get used to it.
If you play around with Front Range Race/Ethnicity , you will see that "white" part has definitely been happening over the last decade.

I think that "rich" depends upon how you define it. Upper-middle class most decidedly. Just look at house prices in: Highland, West Highland, Sloan's Lake.
If you play around at Zillow, you will see that the spread in average prices between these neighborhoods and the entire city of Denver has been increasing.
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Old 11-05-2011, 02:30 PM
 
422 posts, read 618,676 times
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Quote:
If you play around with Front Range Race/Ethnicity , you will see that "white" part has definitely been happening over the last decade.

I think that "rich" depends upon how you define it. Upper-middle class most decidedly. Just look at house prices in: Highland, West Highland, Sloan's Lake.
On this point, Dave, I guess I am not used to the assumption that "upper-middle-class" = "white" which seems to be implicit in what I hear sometimes. I think what the person I was talking with meant to express is, "these neighborhoods are gentrifying and there's nothing that can be done to stop it." I more or less agree with that - its partially a result of the shrinking middle class, a bigger issue than Denver or I want to discuss here. But using Texas as an example, it seemed to me that most people realized many Hispanics were in professional jobs or business-owners. Indeed, I work with a number of people of color who could well afford to live in the Highlands in a single-family home (or already live here).

Quote:
These "activists" are NIMBYs who were not paying attention when the new zoning code came into place.
I don't care that much if this one site is 5 stories or 3, but is this movement concerned with one site, or will they become active again when the next apartment building, and the next, is proposed on 38th or 44th, as the article identifies? Blueprint Denver was a carefully thought out document to enhance the sustainability of Denver and accommodate needed housing and jobs, and actually neighborhoods like Highlands were down-zoned. I know part of its intent of the new zoning code was not to have a fight every time something was proposed, because this adds greatly to the cost. Housing diversity is a plus for the neighborhood, I think, from the single-family homes to the Denver rowhomes/duplexes to apartments, senior housing, etc.

Last edited by docwatson; 11-05-2011 at 02:39 PM..
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Old 11-05-2011, 02:46 PM
 
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I do also understand that raising, schooling and keeping children safe is a very important part of making a decision of where you live. It is also a part of some reasons of molding an area to meet these concerns. That is why I have said many suburbs and many of the faux new urban developments are a much better choice than fooling yourself in thinking that some urban neighborhoods are better places to live. I do also see that these new young professional with children who move to urban areas do effect many positive changes that would not have occurred.

Just I somewhat decry the creation of fake new urbanism in the suburbs, I also do not agree that we should create fake suburbs in the cities. Many areas of Denver are what they are, as being dense with concentrations of high rises and close in housing, which makes the cities very walkable to shops, amenities and public transit. In addition, their locations, such as Highland lend itself to becoming more dense being closer and now more easily accessible to downtown. There are many other neighborhood of Denver, that are less dense and as such mimic a suburbs and the density are the best for that neighborhood.

We also must remember, if we can, that Highland, West Highland, Berkeley, Sunnyside, Regis etc. at one time were destinations for the less dense neighborhoods that people moved to get away from the dense areas of Capital Hill. They will evolve and change like all neighborhood but some will still remain less dense in compared to the inner city but more dense as compared to the more outlying suburbs.

However as we increase density in contiguous neighborhoods and increase public transit, it will cause some of these neighborhoods to be "closer" to the inner core. Also the inner core of Downtown will expand out and some neighborhood will now be consider a part. That will cause more density in neighborhoods farther out which has are less city dense and we will see high rises and denser development, as these neighborhood change.

Highland is much different neighborhood and density will happen faster because it sits right at the edge of the fast booming Platte River valley and downtown. At one time Potter Highland was "closer" to downtown but we built the Highway and it destroyed many neighborhoods and cut off the western neighborhoods of Denver. We built those ugly overhead bridges and destroyed and minimized more the connections to the neighborhoods of the West Side.

Now Highland is more accessible to these the Platte and Downtown with the removal of the overhead bridges and the installation of lower bridges which brighten and opened the Platte area to new changes and development. I bet many of you cannot remember these high overhead bridges. We added a pedestrian bridge over the highway, the Platte and brought the neighborhood closer to downtown. So now Highland is better served with denser housing than the less dense construction when it originated.

Livecontent

Last edited by livecontent; 11-05-2011 at 03:01 PM..
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Old 11-05-2011, 02:54 PM
 
422 posts, read 618,676 times
Reputation: 313
Quote:
That is why I have said many suburbs and many of the faux new urban developments are a much better choice than fooling yourself in thinking that some urban neighborhoods are better places to live.
Lots to think about! I hope to raise my kid(s) in a city where they can walk places, but still be safe. Or perhaps on a farm. But not in the suburbs! Statistically, the most dangerous thing we do with kids is put them in (or let them drive) a car!
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Old 11-05-2011, 03:20 PM
 
Location: Berkeley in Denver, CO USA
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Default Data are your friends

Quote:
Originally Posted by docwatson View Post
Statistically, the most dangerous thing we do with kids is put them in (or let them drive) a car!
National Child Mortality Data
True.
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Old 11-05-2011, 03:40 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by docwatson View Post
Lots to think about! I hope to raise my kid(s) in a city where they can walk places, but still be safe. Or perhaps on a farm. But not in the suburbs! Statistically, the most dangerous thing we do with kids is put them in (or let them drive) a car!
I agree and I have saying that for a long time. Also to put an adult in a car, or worse yet an elder person who is driving beyond his capabilities who will hurt himself and others, because these far out suburbs provide no other options.

Another problem is that these suburbs with the big parking lots in front of the stores, malls and big box developments are a very real danger to a pedestrian, which in many cases is children/tweens who cannot drive. Most do not provide sidewalk access to the main street.

I lived in NYC and went to college in NY. The brightest and most intelligent; the most preceptive; and the most well rounded young people who understand how to get along with other people were raised and educated in New York City, especially Manhattan. For example, I would run across these young people hauling their instruments, carry their books to schools, to Juillard, to the School of the Arts etc. all the time on the subways. That was time when NYC was at its worse with crime, much has changed.

Now in Denver, I have seen and talked to another generation of young people on the light rail in Denver, going to rehearsals and classes. It make me real proud of Denver.

Livecontent

Last edited by livecontent; 11-05-2011 at 03:51 PM..
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