BY JULIE BIELENBERG, KALEIGH LAWSON & ALISON ROTH
PHOTOS BY JOSEPH ROYBAL
2014 is the year to celebrate Denver’s real estate industry. The Mile High City was named “one of the 10 healthiest real estate markets” in the U.S. by USA Today and a top market by the Zillow Market Index Report, with metro area homes gaining 21.9 billion in total value for 2013. And with Denver garnering awards for its parks, businesses, cuisine and more, it’s no surprise that the annual American Fitness Index named Denver the fifth healthiest city in the U.S. DLM got the scoop from local real estate agents who know their neighborhoods. Check out our selection of the best places to settle down and stay a while.
For Movers & Shakers:Ballpark/RiNo
The industrial character of the Ballpark/RiNo area welcomes urbanites looking for endless entertainment. “The Ballpark Neighborhood, which lies within the River North Art District (RiNo) is home to an array of innovators including artists, architects, brewers, coffee roasters, manufacturers and builders,” says Gravitas Development Group’s Ryan Diggins. “The energy created by these different businesses and personalities is palpable, and it’s what makes the neighborhood so much fun to live and work in.” With easy access to downtown Denver, this area is a bicycle commuter’s dream. And don’t forget about those who love to imbibe. “RiNo has 10 different brewery, distillery and winery tasting rooms!” says Ryan Diggins.
For Foodies: Highland
West of downtown, the Highland area is one of the most sought-after metro neighborhoods. Encompassing the Lower Highlands, Highlands Square and Tennyson St., Highland is respected for its culture, friendly neighbors, walkability and restaurant scene. With a combination of quaint, historic bungalows and luxury apartments and condos, Highland was ranked as one of Travel+Leisure’s “Emerging American Neighborhoods.” Foodies enjoy fare from LOLA, Root Down, Little Man Ice Cream, Sushi Sasa, Williams & Graham, Duo and more. With a history of Italian and Hispanic residents, the food scene is enhanced by family-owned Italian, Mexican, Peruvian and Argentinian restaurants.
For the Business Savvy: Broomfield
With its name credited to the broomcorn originally grown here, Broomfield is home to Tolls Brothers’ Anthem Community, which offers high-end homes in an upscale area. With fitness classes, trails and a family atmosphere, Anthem is refined suburban living. Broomfield’s scenic trails take you to points of interest such as Sterns Lake — a great fishing spot—and shoppers love Flatiron Crossing Mall. The economy is going strong with many successful businesses headquartered here, such as Ball, Noodles & Company, Mrs. Fields, Vail Resorts and MWH Global. Broomfield is also home to Taylor Morrison Home Builders’ Skyestone 55+ community, which provides opportunities to explore close to home and create new friendships
For Shopaholics: Cherry Creek
“Cherry Creek North dates back to the late 1800s when Edwin P. Harman and his wife, Lou, purchased the 320-acre site and named it Harman’s,” says Nancy Levine of Fuller Sotheby’s International Realty. Now, with additional development, Cherry Creek will continue on its path of popularity. “It’s one of the more expensive, sought-after addresses, characterized by a blend of properties and ages, including youn professionals, older couples and those seeking a culturally active neighborhood,” says Stacey Stambaugh of Madison & Company Properties.¤“With three high-rises in construction, the landscape is going to change dramatically.” Cherry Creek North bursts with high-end boutiques, restaurants, bars and Cherry Creek Shopping Mall. The region is quaint yet a major business center; the upkeep is exceptional; and people love to stroll the sidewalks.
For Historians & Hipsters: Capitol Hill
“The Capitol Hill, Alamo Placita/Speer, Congress Park, Gov’s Park and Cheesman Park areas are often intermingled by people who have a hard time deciphering where one neighborhood ends and another begins,” says Julie Bloch Burton of Brixton Real Estate. Regardless, this dense area boasts more than 700 restaurants, bars and coffee shops as well as turn-of-the-century mansions, many of which have been converted to businesses. “I love working in this area because it’s stable, yet one of the most diverse neighborhoods within Denver,” says Burton. “Also, Cheesman Park is close by, which is a large park with a huge open space, jogging path and an entrance to Denver Botanic Gardens.”
For Small Towners: Littleton
Since the early days of the gold rush, Littleton has been home to Coloradoans looking for a smalltown atmosphere. With about 42,000 residents, Littleton provides an intimate atmosphere while maintaining access to the city via the light rail. This notable town offers festivities year-round including Western Welcome Week and the Candlelight Walk. The city’s slogan, “Anything But Little,” is a good reminder of its presence in the Denver area. Littleton Public Schools have been included in U.S. News’ “Best High Schools” and Newsweek Magazine’s “Top High Schools in America.” They have the highest graduation rate of any school district in the Denver metro area.
For Commuters: Hampden South/Southmoor Park
Walkability and accessibility are priorities in the Hampden South area, and the dining and retail additions at The District and Shoppes at Highpointe add to the area’s appeal. “The homes in the neighborhood were built in the ‘60s and ‘70s with open, functional floor plans that cater to today’s families,” says Renee Cohen of Coldwell Residential Brokerage’s Southeast Metro Office. “Residents have their own space and privacy, but it’s not large enough that they don’t know their neighbors.” The Southmoor light rail station connects this area to the city for an easy commute. “The neighborhood can be characterized by its stability and vitality,”
says Cohen. “Many of the original owners still live there, and when those owners move out, younger families move in.” For golf enthusiasts, Cherry Hills Country Club is minutes away, which is especially exciting considering that they’re hosting the BMW Championship this September.
For Urban Families: Hilltop
The highest point on the east side of Denver, aristocratic Hilltop is an elevated choice for families looking for a centrally located neighborhood. One of Denver’s renowned private schools, Graland Country Day School, educates many of the Hilltop kiddos. “Not only are the schools top-notch, but I love the architectural style of the homes. My husband and I are both from the Midwest, and the more traditional architecture and mature trees appeal to us,” says Stephanie Lepard of Coldwell Banker Devonshire. “Two parks grace the area,” says Thaddeus Howells of PorchLight Real Estate Group. “While Robinson is famous for its sledding hill, Cranmer’s 23-acre space was built with a magnificent view of the Front Range and a city ordinance that will never allow buildings
to block it.”
For the Community Minded: Louisville
Placing second in Money Magazine’s “2013 Best Places to Live – America’s Best Small Towns,” Louisville provides homeowners a nostalgic community with a historic, safe, small-town feel. In this former coal-mining town, you will find many new homes and a historic main street packed with shops and restaurants. First Friday Art Walks, summertime Street Faires, an extensive Labor Day Weekend celebration and other fun events unite the community. Louisville’s job-rich economy provides a solid base for young adults and families; it was named one of the “Best Towns for Families” by Family Circle in 2012.
For Young Families: Lowry
“Lowry attracts families from Stanley British Primary School, Denver Montclair International School, The Logan School for Creative Learning and Bishop Machebeuf High School,” says Wendy Handler of Fuller Sotheby’s International Realty. “The available homes can accommodate any living situation including singles, empty nesters and grandparents who want to live near their grandchildren.” Sitting on what used to be a working air force base, Lowry has rebuilt this area so successfully that it was bestowed the Governor’s Award for Smart Growth. “With a convenient town center, numerous workout facilities and great restaurants including the Beer Garden in the old Hangar, this is an attractive spot,” Handler says. “Don’t forget that Lowry residents love their dogs; pooches are everywhere!”
For Empty Nesters: Park Hill
Major Denver attractions are blocks away, making Park Hill a prime spot for empty nesters looking for an urban lifestyle sans the congestion of the actual city. “Park Hill is one of Denver’s oldest and most cherished neighborhoods,” says Howells. Mature trees line some of Denver’s most exemplary architecture, including Tudors, Victorians and bungalows ranging in price from $300,000 to $1,500,000. “Whether it’s the picturesque setting, tight-knit community or convenient location, you’d be hard-pressed to find a resident of Park Hill who isn’t proud of where they live,” says Howells. “Just ask NBA basketball star, Chauncey Billups, who grew up here; he has the neighborhood’s name tattooed on his arm.
For Nature Lovers: Parker & Castle Rock
With a history dating back to 1862, Parker is perfect for families and nature lovers. Full of winding trails and open spaces, Parker has more than 250 acres of parkland and 900 acres of open space; the latter is home to deer, coyotes, foxes, birds and an occasional bear or mountain lion. Developments, such as Idyllwild and Canterberry Crossing, sit at an elevation of approximately 6,000 feet, and a popular path, Cherry Creek Trail, winds through town. The nearby Blackstone Country Club in Southeast Aurora boasts its popular championship golf course, so golf addicts can get their fix. Travel south of Parker and you’ll find yourself in beautiful Castle Rock. Similar to Parker, Castle Rock’s natural surroundings give residents the opportunity to explore open spaces and trails. Ranked number 19 of the “100 Best Places to Live in America” in 2011 by Money Magazine, Castle Rock has made a name for itself in Colorado as well.
For Green-Living: Stapleton
Just 15 minutes west of downtown Denver and 20 minutes from Denver International Airport, master-planned Stapleton has miles of trails, well-maintained gardens and more than 35 parks. “Stapleton has a lot of quirks, but probably the one it’s most known for is the overwhelming number of families with kids that live here,” says Veritas Real Estate’s Grant Nesbit. “Halloween is legendary the tons of candy required to meet the huge demand! There are also outdoor movies on warm summer nights for families, often drawing 400- 500 people.” Known for its sustainable practices, nearly 90 percent of households participate in the recycling program; every home is 100-percent Energy Star Compliant and most of the area’s retail and office spaces are LEED-certified. Residents are eagerly anticipating the addition of a light rail system, slated for 2016.
For Fitness Pals: Sloan’s Lake
What supposedly began in 1861 as a well dug by farmer, Thomas Sloan, quickly grew into a lake that had Denverites visiting to see the sight. Now, redevelopment of the former St. Anthony’s Hospital on the south shore of Sloan’s Lake will morph this quiet region on the edge of the Highland area into a new, sustainable neighborhood. “There was once an amusement park and swimming facility known as Manhattan Beach here,” says Redfin Corporation’s Greg Goldstein. Just minutes from downtown Denver, Sloan’s Lake will welcome SLOANS, a 19- acre, mainly residential, mixed-use development that will add seven blocks of housing, retail and office space to the area.
For Animal Lovers: Washington Park
Washington Park homes cost a pretty penny, and the streets surrounding the immediate park provide a constant stream of car and foot traffic. Regardless, it’s loved for its treasured brand of quality, outdoor fun. “Homes in Wash Park sold at more than twice the speed in 2013 as they did in 2012,” says Trelora’s Joshua Hunt. The bungalow, Victorian- and Tudorstyle homes surround the 161-acre park known for hosting races and events, as well as intramural tennis, volleyball and more. The idyllic boat house, rec center, flower gardens and picnic areas contribute to its beauty. “Look at Washington Park West for older listings around $450,000, as well as “scrape os” and new custom builds beginning around $800,000,” says Howells.