LoHi – The Lower Highlands Neighborhood

The Rise of LoHi

Denver is growing – fast.  The rapid turnover of homes for sale, the number of construction cranes ornamenting the city and the influx of young adults from all over the country is proof.  Not everyone is vying for an apartment in Capitol Hill or Washington Park, however.  The growth being enjoyed by the city has it’s traditionally more popular neighborhoods saturated and choices of available housing slim.  Fortunately, there is a new neighborhood very much on the rise: The Lower Highlands.  Commonly referred to by the shorter and conveniently modish abbreviation LoHi, this neighborhood sits just northwest of downtown Denver.

Part of the larger Highland neighborhood, LoHi is closest to Downtown and easily reached by foot by passing over the pedestrian bridges extending away from the terminus of the 16th Street Mall and Commons Park.  This allows residents to feel connected to the city’s core while still enjoying a neighborhood uniquely their own – and what an exciting neighborhood it is!  New arrivals and long-standing residents alike enjoy a great number of restaurants, bars and boutiques within a stone’s throw.  Traditional community staples such as schools and pharmacies also abound.  Further into the Highlands, more commercial nodes exist in this former ‘streetcar suburb’ – all very much within walking distance.

Previously a town in its own right, the Highland neighborhood is rich with historic, low-rise properties.  The influx of new residents to the neighborhood has led to the construction of new residential buildings.  Many of these contain less than 20 units as it is an important urban design principle that new developments fit smoothly into the existing architectural character of a neighborhood.  One such development is called LoHi Court.  Containing 18 units over three buildings, this new HOA fits seamlessly into the neighborhood.  The narrow and colorful structures sit tightly amongst their neighbors.  For example, parking garages are located under each unit and stem off of a driveway not much wider than some that can be seen at single-family homes elsewhere in the city.  It is true that much of the charm of this neighborhood can be attributed to its density.

Nationally, dense urban neighborhoods have been attracting young professionals and new families at an increasing rate over recent years.  The Highlands are no exception.  The popularity of this kind of convenient living has units selling fast.  LoHi Court, for example, sold out in less than a year – and it’s not even done being built!  Developer Carl Koelbel of Koelbel and Company and Koelbel Urban Homes said that the residents of LoHi Court are already enjoying community togetherness.  Likely stemming purely from their shared joy of living in LoHi, there were never any meetings to promote this neighborly friendliness, it just occurred naturally.

LoHi Court took advantage of available land within the otherwise densely settled area.  This method of development is called infill, uses land within an already built-up area for further construction.  Mr. Koelbel also promotes infill and other sustainability-focused developments elsewhere in Denver and the greater Metro Area.  The motto of his company is, after all, “Stewards of the Land.”  Another smart style of development is transit-oriented.  Koelbel and Company is in the process of rezoning an area surrounding a light rail stop in Greenwood Village to ‘town center’ status as to create a mixed-use environment around the station.  This designation allows various businesses and housing of various income levels to coexist around the station and benefit from the access to mass transit.  Mr. Koelbel states that it is important to develop low-income residences early into the existence of a transit hub before other interested parties claim the land.  Transportation hubs certainly do attract much development as clearly evidenced by the amount of new construction at Denver Union Station which, to further highlight the city’s growth, itself is being prepared to handle new incoming and outgoing commuter rail lines as part of the FasTracks transit project.

Though LoHi is not served directly by light or commuter rail, it is a shining example of urban redevelopment.  With new residential buildings popping up all over it can also serve as a case study for the rapid emergence of a signature neighborhood within a city.  As Denver continues to grow and increase its attractiveness as a place to work and do business, LoHi and its greater Highland area will continue to secure its place as a desirable and lucrative neighborhood.  At the same time, other Denver neighborhoods will rise to prominence and the entire city will benefit from this vibrancy.  CAP Management is very excited to see Denver and the Front Range metropolitan area flourish and is pleased to play the important role of managing these new communities.