Adventure!

That’s what I often hear when people are asked why they moved to Colorado. There is so much of it, but truly

one of the greatest adventures is exploring the mountains. It’s long been a thought of Coloradoans and in 1912, the Colorado Mountain Club officially began as an organization dedicated to service and protection of the wilderness and love of hiking the wild outdoors.

Flashback… Hiking in 1912

Let’s just say that these hikers were nothing short of… well, bad-ass (can we say that?). Yes, they sure were. Women and men alike got their hike on with spikes, poles and wool gear. Big change from our moisture wick and poly for arctic hikes and sturdy, yet light summer gear now. Early Colorado Mountain Club leisure adventurers could be imagined in either of these early hiking pictures.

 

Early hikers broadened the outdoor activity and brought awareness and education to the botany and fauna of the land. As a group activity, it was one that encouraged teamwork and also seemed to ignore the fact that so many physical activities were limited to one or the other of the sexes. Many hiking groups were blind except to ability and the sense of adventure.

Since Then…

The Colorado Mountain Club started with 25 service-minded, outdoor oriented people gathered in Denver. James Grafton Rogers was the first President of the club and their very first outing was to Denver’s Cheesman Park, which was was a bit more natural and a lot less urban at the time. Can you just imagine? Their first official “mountain” trip was a hike to the top of South Boulder Peak.

 

The Club grew rapidly and many of its members became the first to climb all of Colorado’s known 14,000-foot peaks. Thus, starting the trend to climb alllllllll the 14-er’s as we call them for short now.

 

And, the Colorado Mountain Club has expanded outside of the U.S. to offer adventure trips. The next ones? Switzerland! Slovenia! Portugal! Nepal! Mexico! New Zealand! Yes. It’s incredible how many amazing hiking trips you can go on through the club. You can also stay semi-local by checking out their “ancient ruins” Utah trip and Bryce Canyon adventures. Today, the club runs over 3,000 activities and trips a year. That’s a lot of smiles, a lot of comradery and lot of nature-lovin’ which we are SO into. Huge thanks to this organization.

 

Passionate About Hiking and the Environment (In the News)

So as we’ve mentioned, we’re totally all about adventure, nature, Colorado and exploring the world. AND, we are huge into protecting the environment. It’s another reason why we love this organization so much.

The Club and it’s volunteers have influenced environmental issues since 1921 when the club spoke out against a proposal that threatened National Parks. They also helped work with area leaders in establishing the Rocky Mountain National Park.

In later years, they worked towards advocating against new dam construction, timber sales and water diversions. Further, in the 40’s and 50’s, they went on a tree planting mission. Today, they continue their conservation efforts through policy advocacy, trail maintenance, their backcountry snowsports initiative, snow preservation, and keeping public land public!

 

Why Donations Are Greatly Needed & How Conscious Real Estate Helps

There couldn’t be a greater need than now to protect the Earth and public lands designated as natural areas. At Conscious Real Estate, we donate 10% of our own commission from every home sale to a nonprofit of our clients’ choice.

Allison Parks, Founding Broker of Conscious Real Estate presents her donation to Colorado Mountain Club

We couldn’t have been more proud to have been able to donate to the Colorado Mountain Club. Here’s Conscious Real Estate founder, Allison Parks, proudly delivering the check to the club. Interested in working with us? Or, are you a Denver-area professional that wants to connect? Click here to send us a note. We look forward to hearing from you!

Why Is It Called MaxFund?

In 1988, Dr. Suro owned a large veterinary practice in the Denver area and worked alongside his wife, program manager. Nanci Suro. The practice was thriving and the couple had just expanded to be a 24-hour practice. Immediately, the Suros discovered they had a “problem” on their hands. What should they do with the animals that good samaritans were bringing in? Most clinics and shelters were euthanizing the animals without owners immediately, unable and unwilling to foot the animals’ medical costs.

When “Max” came in one day after being hit by a car, the Suros began a fund from a fishbowl, called on service donations from local vets, held a yard sale and eventually came up with the money. To their delight and surprise, they had collected even more fund than they needed for Max’s successful treatment and so they continued the process for the next animal and so on and so on.

Max!

What Happened to Max?

Max healed and the Suro’s lived with him for 13 more years! Max inspired the Suros to continue and so they did. After some time, they were able to gain press coverage and even had an offer from a large corporation to buy their teeny nonprofit. Well, once the corporation realized how expensive some of the medical procedures were, they backed out. The organization was fully run by volunteers until 1995. Now, the organization relies on the generous support of the public which has come from the legacy of estates, generous living contributions, service donations by local vets, and donations from socially conscious business (yup like us here at Conscious Real Estate!!).

 

Why Do We Love MaxFund?

Well one reason is this sweet little bitty of a pup. Her only problem? Well, she has two in these pictures. Two broken legs. Poor thing. Thanks to MaxFund she was able to get the medical attention that she needed and…well…a donation wasn’t enough for us in this case. Conscious Real Estate owner and founder Allison Parks ended up adopting her to add to her pack. She’s had a lot of happy days since then!

Who rescued who? She’s perfect!


Another amazing fact about MaxFund? Founder Dr. Suro got his own new lease on life when he was donated a kidney from Hillary Rettig who said she chose to donate to Dr. Suro because of all the lives of animals he’s saved!!! – MaxFund


What Does MaxFund Do?

MaxFund offers low-cost medical services for injured and ill animals as well as preventative services like spay, neuter and vaccinations. They also offer adoption services for dogs and cats, including those with special needs. Every animal deserves a home, they say.

 

“We believe in second chances. And, we’ll continue to follow our mission in saving injured animals without owners. No matter how large we become we get, in a real sense we will always be “the small shelter that makes a big difference.” We are growing and have been fortunate to receive many wonderful donations and estates, which we have turned into capital improvements.” – MaxFund

 

MaxFund Needs You + Ways to Give

As usual, there are many ways to give to this nonprofit. You can connect them with sympathetic vets, donate individually, shop through Amazon Smile, volunteer, adopt a pet, or, our favorite – work with us at Conscious Real Estate. We donate 10 percent to a nonprofit of your choice after every sale. Yep, you choose who we donate to! It’s a wonderful way to celebrate your new home and give back to a cause you care about. So far we’ve donated tens of thousands to local and national nonprofits. All you have to do is work with us when you buy your next home. We have a track record of happy clients and are available when you need us. Ready to start?

 

Water is a precious resource, we all know that for a fact. In Colorado, you will typically see either long periods of dryness, or downpour after downpour.

If you’re used to some of the more delicate flower breeds like petunias, you will likely be in for a surprise when you find out that no matter the amount of sprinkling, watering and raining, your gorgeous flowers have shriveled up to the point of no return.

Let’s avoid that for you this year (or if you are new or planning to move to Denver soon), and go over how to garden in Colorado. Which plants will endure?

There are many plants that thrive from little to no water and come up every year, leaving you with little to do each summer but enjoy the fruits of your labor (from last year!).

Here is a comprehensive list of some of our favorite Colorado-loving perennials and a little about each one to make your garden a success this year:

  • Dianthus

Dianthus.jpg

Dianthus flowers are fragrant and come in several color varieties including pink, red and white. They have notched petals and are beautiful for cutting and arranging in a vase. They are even deer resistant.

The best time to plant Dianthus is in the Spring or Fall about 6 – 12 inches apart. After the first frost, cut the stems to about 1 – 2 inches above ground. Stake the stems when they first begin to grow as these can be very tall plants.

Dianthus multiply easily, so every 3 – 4 years, you can take the plants, divide them up and replant them for even more coverage.

  • Rocky Mountain Penstemon

 

Rocky Mountain Penstemon.JPG

 

This plant is a relative of the evergreen and appears as a small bush with purple flowers. It grows best in drained soil (think: dry) and can handle high altitudes and plenty of direct, brutal sun.

Rocky Mountain Penstemons also attract bumblebees, making your garden an attractive spot for them to pollinate and maintain an insect ecosystem, which is great for the environment and creates a safe haven for them.

The purple flowers are exquisite. Tall and straights, they bloom consistently and add height to your landscaping. They are also native to the region, providing a stable and natural addition to the area’s flora.

  • Liatris

Liatris.jpg

Liatris varieties are one of the easiest plants to grow in the Colorado area. They are able to withstand the blazing sun without much water, for long periods of time.

They are a prairie wildflower that grows somewhat in the shape of a small bush with leaves and greens at the bottom and pinkish/purple “paintbrush” appearing blooms.

Liatris can grow from 1 – 5 feet tall depending on how close they are to other plants or obstructions and how much (or too much) nutrients they receive, so to get to their full growth, plant your seeds a bit further apart, at about 12 – 15 inches.

  • Rocky Mountain Columbine

Rocky Mountain Columbine.jpg

It’s not surprising that the Colorado State Flower, the Rocky Mountain Columbine, would make this list. It has been a favorite of Colorado residents for over a century, voted into “statehood recognition status” in 1891 by local school children.

While most plants on this list can grow in full sun in arid conditions, the Columbine is just slightly more delicate and should be planted in partial shade. They are a hardy perennial, however, so they can withstand more sun and less water than the average flower.

Fertilization is a good idea for Columbines and can help them be most vibrant. And, make sure you do not overwater as they thrive in well-drained soil.

Columbines are resistant to insects and diseases and will grow all season long, making them a perfect staple to your Colorado garden.

  • Poppy Mallow

Poppy Mallow.jpg

 

Poppies are beautiful plants that come in a variety of colors, including the most well-known orange colored variety. In Colorado, you will find orange and a magenta variety, among others with speciality growers and seasoned landscapers.

Poppy Mallows (and poppies in general) require a different method of planting than many other flower varieties. The best time to plant the seeds is in the fall, or even in the winter. Winter? Yes. Poppies need a period of “stratification” or “period of exposure to cold” before they will germinate. Make sure you plant in bright, bright sun as they absolutely love it.

They do have a short bloom season, so these are often planted with other annuals and perennials for variety in color once the poppy blooms have faded. They are a great accent and do very well in Colorado climates, coming back year after year to make your garden the envy of your new neighborhood.

Want more? Check out these local resources.

Now that you know to avoid the tempting displays at the local shopping centers, make sure to check out a local gardener for these and many more Colorado-happy varieties of plants. A great idea is to create a Pinterest board of the flowers that do well here and bring your phone to the market. Show the pictures and names and get the info you need from experienced “bloomers.”

Another way is to check out this guide from 5280 (one of our local Denver magazines). It goes into not only the perennial flowers mentioned here, but also great annuals that do well, vegetables that will make it, and herbs that will season your dishes and grow naturally well in our local conditions.

And, if that’s not enough, geek out on Plant Select’s comprehensive “e-guide” here that breaks it all down for you.

Ready to start planting the seeds in your Colorado move?

Contact us here to get sent free listings exactly in your price range, neighborhood, style and size. It’s so easy and better than browsing because these days, you can’t really trust what’s online commercially, but you can trust the National Association of Realtors, which has the only truly up-to-date listings in the area. The Association stands behind honesty and accountability in real estate and it’s the only system we us. Just click here to send us a note on what you’re looking for and we’ll get you all set up.

 

bianca-chicken

1)  Chickens Lay Eggs.  Not just any eggs, but the most flavorful eggs you will ever eat.  The recent health benefits  from the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient date suggests that eggs from hens on a pasture may contain: 1⁄3 less cholesterol, 1⁄4 less saturated fat,  2⁄3 more Vitamin A, 2 times more Omega-3 fatty acids, 3 times more vitamin E, and 7 times more beta carotene.

2)  Chickens don’t require a great deal of space.  One should allow for 4 square feet of space per hen in their house and 10 square feet of space in an outdoor run.

3)  Chickens are easy to care for.  Chickens need food and water and safe exercise space.  It takes a few minutes to feed them, collect eggs and clean up bedding.

4)  Chickens are fun and educational for children.  Children can experience firsthand where food comes from and learn how to be responsible with care and feeding.

5)  Chickens produce manure, which is an ideal fertilizer for flower and vegetable gardens.  Chicken manure provides more nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to plants than horse or cow manure.  Note:  chicken manure is too strong to be used raw on your flowers or vegetables, but it can be composted and converted to “black gold”.

6)  Chickens are an all-in-one yard service, resolving most insect and weed problems. If you have a section of yard with problems – forget the pesticide and let them scratch it up. Within a couple of days, it’s tilled and ready for planting.

Local ordinances for urban chicken farming in Colorado vary considerably.  Currently, backyard chickens are allowed in Alamosa, Arvada, Boulder, Denver, Colorado, Springs, Greeley, Longmont, and most recently, Aurora.  You will need to investigate in your city to determine local ordinances.  There is a $50 fee for urban chicken farming in Denver.  You may only have chickens and hens; no roosters.

Talk with your neighbors and make sure they are comfortable with your backyard flock.  Make sure your chickens have a safe coop, as many Colorado areas have predators, such as foxes, raccoons, and coyotes.  Without a protective roof, they could even be prey for hawks.

Light Rail Station Right sign

The Aurora light rail along I-225 is expected to be completed in 2016.  City officials hope this 10 mile stretch will become Aurora’s main street, hosting shops, restaurants, residential, and office buildings near the light rail stops.  Many of the plans are expecting vertical development including high-end condos and office buildings.  Aurora Mayor, Steve Hogan, says “It’s an opportunity for Aurora to stop accepting average and start shooting for the stars.”

Critics believe this goal may be difficult to attain.  Aurora City Councilman Bob LeGare says that the market for rentals isn’t realistic.  Commercial space in Aurora usually sits around $17-18 per square foot at the high end, while plans for the development are aiming for office space at $25 per square foot.  The higher price required for developers to make a profit is largely due to zoning is transit-oriented developments.  A development of four stories or higher must have a parking structure and elevators, so the cost is passed on the tenant.

Development around Littleton’s light rail system has had moderate success, while Lakewood’s light rail line has been open for 10 months and has not yet seen transit-oriented development.

Mayor Hogan admits, “Maybe we are expecting too much or aiming too high.  But if you never try, then he’s [Councilman LeGare] right.”

 

denver-golden-skyline

I attended Mayor Michael Hancock’s 2014 Denver Economic Development Update, with speakers Paul Washington, the Director of Denver’s Office of Economic Development and Kelly Leid, the project manager of the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative, so that you don’t have to!  2014 is looking pretty strong, but let’s review what Denver has already accomplished…

-Unemployment is down in to pre-recession levels

-We have experienced record-breaking home prices

-Forbes listed Denver as a Top City for Economic Momentum and a Top City for Job Seekers!

-Nonstop international flights to Denver have been increased to increase our competitiveness as an international economic contender

-We have gained 80,000 new residents since 2001

-New construction has hit the highest levels in over a decade

-Denver Public School attendance is up from 72,000 to 90,000 students

-Denver has added 15,000 jobs over the last two years

Not too shabby!  So, what are we looking forward to in 2014?

Mayor Hancock is focusing strongly on building up North Denver, including the improving the RiNo district, redevelopment of Brighton Boulevard, increasing access, transit, and services to the long neglected Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods.  (To learn about Globeville and Elyria Swansea initiative, click here.)  Interstate 70 is also looking to receive improvements to move the highway underground and place a park above ground, similar to the Klyde Warren Park of Dallas, which has been described as “a green space arising out of thin air.”

denver-mayor

Efforts are also being made to redevelop the National Western Stock Complex and Denver Coliseum, to turn them into a year-round destination for out-of-towners.  The Welton Corridor in Five Points is also receiving grant money for mixed-use improvements.  The Mayor is also focused on adding affordable housing, as well as mixed-income developments in lower income neighborhoods.

One of my personal favorites as an real estate agent who advocates for community building and eco-concerns is that the Mayor has recognized that many of Denver’s new residents are aged 18-34.  He acknowledged that these folks wants to live, work, and play in the same area, often eschewing vehicles for public transit.  To accommodate this, our transit system is being expanded and strengthened.

All in all, the future looks bright!

denver-bronco-red-rocks

A few days out from the Super Bowl, Denver is feeling the love.  United in Orange!  Of course, I absolutely want to crush the Seahawks, because seriously, WHO DO THEY THINK THEY ARE?  But what I appreciate even more is a feeling of unity in the city that has made itself my home… So now is a great time to show some love for our city.

We are really so lucky to live here.  We can drive an hour from our home and be surrounded by truly majestic nature.  The “purple mountain majesties” is NOT an exaggeration.  We have maintained our economy whereas many other parts of the United States been struggling.  We have fantastic sports teams to watch and a plethora of sports we can engage in on our own and WE DO.  We have developed a ton of local businesses that are a delight to support, so we make the friendly faces behind the businesses our friends.  We have no shortage of beautiful historic homes – granted, I do real estate, but I can drive down Curtis St and applaud out loud for the colorful Victorians that were built by the people who started this city and I never get sick of it.  My father taught me to appreciate craftmanship and quality and our homes have it!

So, here is a visual love poem to Denver called “Breathless,” created by Air Ball Creative for TedxMileHigh.  I don’t know these guys, but they are welcome to come over for coffee any time!  I always have at least a couple of tears by the end of this video and I have seen it at least 8 times.  If you like Ted, check out this love letter to the Mile High City written by TedxMileHigh fellow Sam Faktorow.

And here is a mashup video of the “Orchestra Show Down” made for the 2014 Super Bowl, with the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra playing against the Seattle Philharmonic.  Denver is playing “Rocky Mountain High,” versus Seattle’s “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.”

And finally, a bit of my own “art.”  (Do NOT quit your day job, Allison.)  I attended an event for Project Valentine, which is a local organization which makes Valentine’s Day care packages for people receiving chemotherapy on Valentine’s Day.  A GREAT nonprofit organization – click here if you would like to get involved. (The event was at The Art Salon in City Park West – also a place worth checking out!)

project-valentine-2

I love you, Denver.  Thank you for supporting me.

Omaha!

Marijuana Questions

Whether you voted to legalize marijuana in the state of Colorado or not, it happened – and the business of legal marijuana is a large enough industry to affect our local real estate market.  This blog is not intended to be political, I simply consider it my job to stay on top of all aspects of real estate and our local economy.  So, how can we expect legal weed to affect our local real estate market?

All in all, marijuana equals more money.  In Colorado, 5 million dollars was generated in sales tax from medical marijuana in 2011.  The state of Washington estimates that legalizing marijuana will create $1.9 billion in additional revenue in the next five years.  The city of Oakland raised $1.3 million in tax revenue in 2011, which accounted for 3% of the city’s total business tax revenue.

Those numbers aren’t bad.

CNN Money quotes Alec Rhodes, managing director at Cassidy Turley Commercial Real Estate Services in Denver, estimates that marijuana growing operations occupy at least 1.5 million square feet of commercial real estate, which contributed to the local economy to get us through the recession.

So, if someone were relocating to a new city, what might they look for?  Strong economy.  Good schools. Colorado governmental regulations seek on the legal marijuana industry seek to provide this.  In fact, the first $40 million of sales and excise taxes on newly legalized recreational marijuana has been earmarked as revenue for public schools.

All in all, it is likely that the legal marijuana industry will positively affect the Colorado housing market over the next ten years; home prices probably wouldn’t skyrocket due to the industry, but the additional reinforcement to our local economy will likely add benefit.  The revenue generated from marijuana will redistribute into other local non-marijuana related businesses.  Folks who work in the legal marijuana industry will need to buy homes, eat dinner at local restaurants, acquire legal counsel, hire employees, and so forth.  With our nation’s economy still not up to full recovery, we can remain optimistic about maintaining our economic strength in the state of Colorado.

An eerie glowing full moon rises behind a tall skyscraper in the Denver Colorado skyline.

An eerie glowing full moon rises behind a tall skyscraper in the Denver Colorado skyline.

1)  If you haven’t already heard, Denver has 300 days of sunshine per year.  It keeps us cheerful and bright.  Sunshine combats Seasonal Affective Disorder and allows us to occasionally wear shorts in December.

2)  The mountains are right there.  Not a skier or snowboarder? Hike. Kayak. Climb. Snowshoe. Stand-Up Paddleboard on the rivers. Take photographs. Breathe.  Even if you choose to never set foot in the mountains, the front range always looks stunning from the city.

3)  Strong economy. Denver has diverse and growing industries – technology, natural gas, clean energy, mutual funds, tourism.  Our unemployment rate is lower than that of New York City.

4)  No shortage of great restaurants.  When I need to entertain guests, my problem isn’t “Which restaurant is good enough?”  My problem is “Which great restaurant is perfect for this occasion?”

5)  Lower cost of living than coastal cities.  Considerably lower.  The median price of a single-family home in Denver was $285,000 in the third quarter of 2013, compared to New York’s median of $515,000.

6)  Parks. (No, not Allison Parks, though I am a GREAT reason to move to Denver.) Denver has the largest city park system in the nation. Denver has more than 200 parks within the city and 20,000 acres of parks in the nearby mountains, including spectacular Red Rocks Amphitheatre. The city has its own buffalo herd and every year plants more than 200,000 flowers in 26 formal flower gardens.

7)  Denver is a cultural city with the second highest educated population in America. In its Old West days, Denver had a performance of Macbeth before it had a school or a hospital. Today, the Denver Performing Arts Complex has nine theatres seating 10,000 people and is second only to New York’s Lincoln Center. The seven county metro area has a self-imposed sales tax for the arts that raises up to $40 million a year, which is distributed to 300 arts organizations and facilities.

8)  Denver is one of only a few cities to have seven professional sports teams. Denver also has horse racing and a professional rodeo. Denver has 90 golf courses, 850 miles of bike paths and the nation’s largest city park system.

9)  Denver brews more beer than any other city.  If you’re a beer lover, you could tour artisan breweries for days.

10)  Denver really is the Mile High City. There is a step on the State Capitol Building that is exactly 5,280 feet above sea level. In Denver’s rarified air, golf balls go ten percent farther. So do cocktails. Alcoholic drinks pack more of a wallop than at sea level. The sun feels warmer, because you’re closer to it, but your coffee is cooler, because water boils at 202 degrees.

If you’re ready to relocate to Denver, let Conscious Real Estate help you find your new home! To contact one of our agents, call 303-908-9873 or email our owner, Allison Parks, at allison@theconsciousgroup.com.
dogs-and-me-from-back-remixed
    One of the many qualities that makes Denver such an amazing city to call “home” is our close proximity to the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.  Perhaps that’s one reason the Denver economy and housing market have outpaced those in states given what a desirable city we live in!
     As summertime temperatures bring and end to much of our snow pack and the mud season that temporarily follows, now is the perfect time to begin getting out and taking advantage of all that make the Rockies so majestic–particularly as wildflowers begin to bloom and long summer days await.  The Rockies are quite impressive indeed and boast more land mass above 10,000 feet than any other state, in addition to the Continental Divide and 55 peaks exceeding 14,000 feet–know commonly as “14ers” among locals, of course.
For those ambitious enough to want to conquer any of Colorado’s 14ers, you’ll definitely want to be in good physical condition, carry proper layers of clothing and plenty of water, and get an early start to avoid afternoon thundershowers. Detailed directions, trailhead information and current conditions can be found on the “official” 14ers website.

Man stands alone on top of a mountain

    If wanting to enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors a bit closer to home, there are plenty of scenic hikes to enjoy right in our own backyard that range from relaxing to challenging.
     And if you prefer the company of your 4 legged friends, there are quite a few off-leash trails that are dog friendly in the Denver area.  Boulder County also has a number of off-leash hiking trails for dogs who have received a “green” tag from the local Animal Control for demonstrating basic dog obedience and call/response capabilities.
     Finally, another great resource for those of you seeking maps, trail books, or detailed in-person information on day or overnight hiking trips is the US Forest Service Desk located within the REI flagship store downtown Denver.
     We hope to see you all out there enjoying a trail soon!