“One of Denver’s oldest neighborhoods on downtown’s northern edge is experiencing a renaissance as new housing lures young professionals.
Hundreds of housing units are planned or are under construction in Curtis Park, a historic urban neighborhood that, until recently, was known more for its notorious public housing project than for its upscale urban pioneers.
Developer Brent Snyder spent a year and a half assembling a block bounded by Park Avenue West, Welton Street, 24th Street and Glenarm Place. He’s planning up to 170 condos and townhomes in five separate developments, with prices ranging from $124,000 to $700,000.
Luxury townhouses are rising from a lot at 25th and Stout streets once littered with crack-cocaine pipes and syringes, evidence of the pervasive presence of drug dealers in the area.
And Chris Hendrickson, president of Talus Development, said the in-fill projects his company has been involved with over the past five years already have increased property values. His company has bumped sales prices $15,000 to $20,000 above what they were when he started.
“Time is of the essence because there’s so much for sale,” said Kathy Struble, who has lived in the neighborhood for three years with her husband, Bill, and 7-year-old son, Will.
She and other residents are lobbying the city for zoning changes that will protect the neighborhood’s historic character while also improving its image.
Curtis Park is now home to 3,528 racially diverse residents, evenly split among African- Americans, Latinos and whites. It is bisected by Park Avenue West, and is roughly bounded by Broadway on the west, Downing Street on the east, Welton Street on the south and Blake Street on the north.
The quadrant contains a mixture of single-story duplexes, grand Victorian mansions and Queen Anne-style homes. The East Village housing project has been razed, and is being replaced by market-rate apartments and condos alongside affordable and low-income units.
Neighborhood landmarks include the historic Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Mestizo-Curtis Park and the Women’s Bean Project, a business and job skills program for low-income women housed in a renovated firehouse.
Although Park Avenue is considered a gateway to downtown, the city has done little to help turn the neighborhood around, long-time residents say.
“This area has not exactly been viewed as a front-runner neighborhood,” said longtime resident Bill West, who has published two books on the Curtis Park neighborhood. “The city has never done anything to help.”
City planners have identified the neighborhood as an “area of stability,” where the focus is on retaining existing, high-quality housing as private developers invest time and money building on the vacant lots that are scattered throughout the neighborhood.”
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Jackson, Margret. Denver Post 28 June 2006