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Could Denver's Sun Valley neighborhood be the next RiNo? Residents hope not.

Our Colorado: Residents fear a 'RiNo 2.0'
Posted at 5:11 PM, Sep 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-26 19:43:41-04

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DENVER -- Could Denver’s Sun Valley neighborhood be the next RiNo? Developers think so, but neighbors say they’re not all that thrilled with the boom.

Sun Valley sits just south of Broncos Stadium at Mile High.

There are a number of potentially big changes coming soon to the layout of the neighborhood, including Meow Wolf’s new $22 million facility.

The old Iron Works plant has also been refurbished and will be reopening in October as a new wedding and events venue.

“We're super excited to bring this back to life," said CEO and owner, Joe O’Dea. “Iron Works has kind of been an icon of Denver since early 1900s."

That opening comes just ahead of the major game-changer coming soon: Meow Wolf.

"I've never seen anything like this before,” said one fan of the Meow Wolf experience. “Maybe in dreams."

Meow Wolf is an immersive art collective. Think the Denver Art Museum, meets Elitch's, meets the Bluebird Theater all under one roof.

"Instead of reading the science fiction book, you're actually going inside the science fiction book," said Meow Wolf founder Vince Kadlubek.

But what Meow Wolf's $22 million building (shaped like a slice of pizza and perfectly situated between the Colfax and I-25 viaducts) will do to Sun Valley is still very unclear.

"It'll just bring more people that don't belong over here," said Sun Valley resident Jaleesa Patterson.

The building boom will certainly increase property values, but many Sun Valley residents don’t want the dark cloud of gentrification. They also express no desire to become the next unaffordable, hip, trendy bar district.

“We don’t need more new bars and stuff,” Patterson said. “We have enough of those down Federal Blvd.”

“It would be nice to have more things for kids,” said Sun Valley resident Equashia Reed. “They don't have enough to do. Everything is too far away or too expensive."

Laura Schneiter works for the nonprofit EarthLinks, which employs the homeless to make gifts like candles and local honey.

She says so far, so good with Meow Wolf.

"We’ve made Sun Valley our home, too,” Schneiter said. “I think (Meow Wolf) has made a lot of effort to meet with a lot of neighborhood and community partners to make sure that their entrance into this neighborhood isn't going to push everyone away."

As part of that social responsibility, Meow Wolf indicates it may offer Sun Valley residents free admission passes. It also plans to employ Sun Valley youth and adults.

So far, Meow Wolf has donated $250,000 to Sun Valley nonprofits, events and underserved youth programs – all ahead of its move. 

It plans to open its doors in Denver in 2020.