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New development changing quirky personality of Broadway corridor in Baker neighborhood

Our Colorado: Growth brings benefits, pain
Posted at 9:53 PM, Mar 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-07 23:53:10-05

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DENVER -- If you've driven along Broadway from 6th Avenue to I-25, you see the change that's underway.

Longtime mom & pop businesses are disappearing. Tired old buildings are being renovated. New ones, like the three-story, mixed-use development at 99 S. Broadway, are sprouting up.

With that change comes a few growing pains.

"It's already pretty hard to find parking down here," said Synovia Duncan, manager of the Hope Tank gift shop at 64 Broadway. "It's unfortunate from a community standpoint to see Old Denver businesses close, or move away due to the rising rents. It's kind of the rising affluence."

Although Duncan has concerns about density, she says the changes are exciting.

"I just think Broadway has a lot of genuine personality," she said. "It's weird, but it's a good community and I love working down here."

Longtime denizen, Richard Cox, feels the same way.

He told Denver7 that his first apartment in the neighborhood cost $400 a month back in 1994.

Now, Cox lives elsewhere, but still works in the neighborhood.

"South Broadway is what it is because of it's charm and personality," he said, "I hope the developers are going to be careful that they keep some of that intact."

Mile High growth

District 7 Councilman Jolon Clark said that in the last ten years, Denver has grown faster than nearly any other city in the U.S.

"The last statistic I saw," he said, "it was 100,000 new people just in the City & County of Denver, not metro-wide, over a ten-year period. That's 100,000 people who need to live somewhere, and work somewhere, and eat somewhere," he said.

Clark said most of the development underway is happening on private property already zoned for that particular type of development. He said it doesn't come before council.

"It's use by right," he said. "They need permits, but it's not an approval process, and it doesn't trigger a public hearing where the community gets to provide feedback."

Clark said many residents don't know that, and try to weigh in when neighbors want to turn a one-story house into a two-story house, or when a developer plans to build a multi-story, mixed-use building next to single family homes.

Clark said the only time it comes before the council, is if the property owner wants to change the zoning, to build something not allowed under current zoning.

Click on this link to learn more about the zoning in your neighborhood.

Finding the right mix

Councilman Clark said the Broadway corridor has shifted from a daytime-oriented mix of businesses to one that is more night-oriented.

Denizens say it's now a hip place to hang out.

"One of the things the neighborhood is really working through, is how many liquor licenses are appropriate in this community," he said, citing "the huge increase in the number of bars and restaurants."

He said that shifts when people use Broadway and it creates an auto-pedestrian danger when all the bars let out at closing time.

"The lights on Broadway are actually timed to try to slow traffic down at night, because it is a straight shot with a lot of lanes, and it's only a 30-mile per hour speed limit," he said. "It really creates an unsafe condition. We've had four or five times now where a car ended up inside one of the restaurants on Broadway because they were going too fast."