By Joshua Wolpe, DENVER DAILY NEWS
It is no secret that the nation’s real estate market has been severely affected by the recent economic recession. While no community is immune to sliding values, some are better equipped than others to weather the storm.
Denver’s Highlands neighborhood, located just northwest of downtown, seems to fit the bill.
“Despite the economic downturn, Highlands has remained pretty strong,” said Deviree Vallejo, an associate broker with Kentwood City Properties who has worked in the Denver market for seven years. ”The neighborhood is close to downtown without the downtown prices.
“But the unique aspect of the Highlands is that it is broken down into sections that each have their own character, architecture and personality.”
Vallejo went on to say this is the busiest August she has ever had, and points to the federal government’s tax credit for first-time home buyers, which gives a credit of up to $8,000 for people purchasing a principal residence before Dec. 1.
Kentwood City Properties is holding a “Highland Home Tour” tomorrow afternoon from 1-4 featuring 16 properties priced anywhere between $275,000 and $700,000.
The tour will feature a Realtor at each home, and visitors can set their own pace. Visit highlandhometour.com for a complete list of locations.
Area attracting and keeping businesses
The Highlands’ reputation of a steady housing market has not been lost on some new businesses that now call the area home, as well as established businesses that have sustained themselves during a challenging time.
Shana Colbin Dunn, owner of Kismet, a jewelry and accessories store in the Highlands at 3640 W. 32nd Ave., credits the neighborhood’s demographics.
“I think that the Highlands is filled with young, ambitious families and professionals,” said Colbin Dunn, who is opening a second store next week in Centennial. “I feel like the vibe is that things are going well because of the demographic, and people seem to be driven to succeed. I’ve been fortunate to have the community support.”
One of the Highlands’ newest restaurants, Root Down, at 1600 W. 33rd Ave., has brought a retro vibe to the area, featuring part of the floor made from a reclaimed basketball court and a bar top made from a 1950s bowling alley lane.
The restaurant’s owner, Justin Cucci, hails from New York City, and was looking for something in Denver that reminded him of home.
“I grew up in Greenwich Village, and I was looking for a similar feel in Denver,” he said. “Highland was the perfect spot — it has a close proximity to the city but it’s not quite in it. I really wanted the urbanity.”
While this summer in Denver has not been as hot as usual, the demand for good ice cream never goes away.
The Highlands has been able to support two handmade ice cream shops, Little Man Ice Cream at 2620 16th St., and Red Trolley at 2639 W. 32nd, which specializes in all sorts of goodies in addition to ice cream.
Red Trolley’s owners, Patrick and Julie Shaw, point to an increased desire of residents to spend their money locally to stimulate their neighborhoods.
They say Highlands is in a good position to capitalize because it is a comfortable place to walk around and enjoy the communal feeling.
“There are definitely many young families here,” said Patrick. “The neighbors are very loyal to the neighborhood and committed to buying local. People are staying closer to home (in a bad economy) but they still want to do fun and inexpensive things with their families.”
Julie added that ice cream, in particular, makes for an easier financial decision.
“It’s not as much of a financial decision as going out for a fine dining meal,” she said. “That is important right now.”
Paul Tamburello, owner of Little Man and a broker associate for Distinctive Properties, opened his shop July 4, 2008.
“They always say ice cream is an industry that is recession-proof,” he said. “We’re having a great time with it, and the community is having fun with it. The people in the Highlands tend to be conscious and proud of the neighborhood.”
Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters