Development curing the 'West Colfax Hangover'

The once seedy stretch of Colfax has changed
Posted at 9:15 PM, May 01, 2017

DENVER -- The once-seedy West Colfax Avenue is now a construction zone, with projects popping up on every corner, hinting that Denver's No Man's Land may be the next big thing.

"It's always had great bones and always been a neat neighborhood, but it had to overcome the 'Colfax hangover', if you will," said Cameron Bertron, the executive vice president of the EnviroFinance Group, the master developer for the Sloans project.
He said the interest shown in developing East Colfax for the last 15 years or so is now moving west.

"This is an artist who did inflated steel columns here," said Dan Shah with the West Colfax Business Improvement District, showing off new artist-designed bus stops along the storied street. "This area is on fire. There are 375 units of apartments going up right here, and then across the way, there is a medical office building and behind that are some townhomes."

Shah said the pace of development has led to concerns about gentrification, as some of the neighborhood's long-time residents have been forced out.

He said the business improvement district is reconstructing the interchange at Federal and Colfaxto make the area more accessible to the nearby Sun Valley neighborhood.

"It's also a neighborhood that’s really diverse and will remain diverse just because there is so much affordable housing in the neighborhood as it stands, including public housing and tax credit projects," Shah said.

The game changer on West Colfax has been the redevelopment of the old St. Anthony's Hospital site, now a $400 million apartment, office and retail project called Sloans.

A controversial 206-unit condo complex overlooking Sloan lake has launched sales and plans to break ground next month, complete with a rooftop urban farm.

"This is a chance to really build something special, when you have nine blocks like this," said Trevor Hines, the CEO for Nava Real Estate Development.

When the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema's partner, Tom DeFrancia, started looking for new locations two years ago, West Colfax came on his radar.

"This was kind of a dreary parking lot, there was a lot of kind of shuttered businesses," DeFrancia said. "This area has changed a lot."

Now, the signature movie theater and bar opens its doors on West Colfax May 15, another sign that this neighborhood is No Man's Land no more. 

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