Skyscrapers in Downtown Denver, Colorado.

After some controversy, the Sloans development is coming to realization.  The former St. Anthony Central Hospital located at West 16th Ave and Raleigh in the West Colfax neighborhood has been scraped and will be redeveloped as Denver’s newest urban infill.  Infrastructure will be built this spring with construction expected to begin by summer.

EnviroFinance Group has placed four of the blocks under contract with local developers who will build a mixed-use area of apartments, restaurants, shops, and a hotel across West 17th Avenue from Sloan’s Lake.  The Denver Post has recently reported that an 8-screen Alamo Drafthouse Theater will be added to the development as well.

There have been opponents to this development, including neighborhood groups who are concerned with density issues.  Around 1,200 residential units are expected with building heights rising to 20 stories.  With this potential influx of new residents to the area, questions have been raised as to whether the area can handle the additional traffic.

Developers believe the project will be a strong addition to the neighborhood.  Most Denverites would agree that West Colfax could use some work… will the Sloans development be the answer?

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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!)

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

Omaha!

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Photo of Sandy Root

The good people at the Movoto Real Estate Blog would appear to have a lot of time on their hands, as they decided to embark upon a meta-analysis of city rankings which included categories such as “Smartest Cities,” “Best Cities for Movie Lovers,” “Funniest Cities,” “Most Steampunk Cities,” and “Best Cities for Meat Lovers.”  (A meta-analysis utilizes statistical methods to reanalyze existing statistics to find new interpretations.)

In some categories, points were awarded for the cities who were the “losers,” such as “Worst-Dressed Cities” and “Most Unhealthy Cities.”  (I don’t mind being a loser in those categories.)  50 cities were considered across 15 categories.

Denver actually ranked highest in the “Meat Lovers” category, receiving 5th Place.  Denver placed 6th in “Funniest” and “Steampunk,” 9th in “Healthiest” and “Smartest,” 14th for “Most Exciting,” 22nd for “Hardest Working,” 23rd for “Most Saintly,” 39th for “Family Friendly,” and 45th for “Home Buyers.”

To expound upon our low score on home-buying in Denver, I agree that the last year’s real estate market in Denver was competitive and sometimes frustrating for home-buyers in Denver.  Even now, we still seem to not have enough sellers to bring us to what would be considered “a balanced market.”  However, we have historically and consistently enjoyed higher real estate appreciation rates than many cities.  (I will take an increase in home values any day over a little extra work!)  And sure, you can purchase a home for less money in many other cities, but will that city boast a strong economy to launch and maintain your career?  Plus, once you buy a home, you want your home’s value to rise.  After all, your home is one of the greatest investments you will ever make!

If you would like further amusement, check out Movoto’s blog for America’s 10 Most Sinful Cities.  Hint: Denver is NOT on the list and Las Vegas is NOT #1.

I-70 East Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Project - Visual Simulation of the Partial Covered Lowered Alternative

I-70 East Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Project – Visual Simulation of the Partial Covered Lowered Alternative

Many people living in Denver have never heard of the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods, although these neighborhoods are almost as close to downtown as the Highlands.  These neighborhoods are north of downtown Denver and are dissected by the junction of I-70 and I-25.  Globeville and Elyria-Swansea consists mostly of smaller Victorian homes built in the late 1800’s which housed the workers of the Globe Smelting and Refining Company which processed raw minerals brought from the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

The Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods have faced many problems in the past, due to a lack of urban planning in the neighborhood as well as environmental issues caused by the nearby industries of what is now Denver’s River North or RiNo area.  However, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Denver City Councilwoman Judy Montero seek to transform the area into a “Corridor of Opportunity.”  “This part of the city has been long avoided by planners, mostly because there were easier projects to tackle,” states Kelly Leid, project manager.

This project, the “North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative,” seeks to provide sidewalks, new drainage, new roads, and new infrastructure including vertical buildings to bring jobs and investment to the area.  A total of four new light-rail stations will be constructed in the neighborhood and the East Commuter Rail Line will cut through on its way to Denver International Airport.  Another project could remove the aging interstate viaduct over the neighborhood, burying it underground and replacing it with a sprawling park, which is a $1.8 billion dollar proposal.

Even if the projects come to fruition in their current form, it will take at least a decade before they’re all fully realized.  In that time, multiple administrations could come and go.  Major improvements have been announced for these areas in the past and then simply did not happen.  In addition to lack of follow-through on past promises, KUNC, a community radio station for Northern Colorado, interviewed several residents in the area and found that area residents are concerned about the gentrification of the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods which occurred in the Denver Highlands neighborhoods. 

Mayor Hancock is pushing for change – to turn what has been called the back door of Denver into the new front door.

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Getting ready to buy a home and want to get 30% of your interest payments back?  Keep reading.

The City and County of Denver 2012 Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) program allows qualifying borrowers to receive an annual federal income tax credit equal to 30% of the annual interest they pay on their mortgage loan. The tax credit enables a taxpayer to subtract the amount of credit from his or her annual total federal income taxes. Borrowers may choose to adjust their W-4 withholding to account for the tax-credit benefit and receive a higher net monthly income. Any excess credit from the MCC may be carried forward for up to three subsequent tax years.

This program will run from April 2012 to December 31, 2014.  Homeowners must keep their first mortgage and occupy the home as their primary residence.  The homeowner must not have owned another home in the past three years (unless they have purchased their home in a “targeted area.”)  Furthermore, the allowable maximum family income for families of 2 or fewer is $79,300 in a non-targeted area and $91,195 for a family of 3 or more, while the maximum family income is $95,160 for a family of 2 or less in a targeted area and  $111,020 for a family of 3 or more in a targeted area.  Click here for a list of targeted areas.

Note:  You must contact the appropriate government agency about getting an MCC before you get a mortgage and buy your home.

For a list of lenders who participate in the MCC program of Denver, please call us to get started at 303-908-9873.

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On one of my adventures through my neighborhood, The 80205, I saw the horse barn a couple years ago and thought, “Someone should really develop this.  It would make great condos.”  Thankfully, someone did develop this building and they had a much better idea than condos!

Denver’s Historic Horse Barn in Curtis Park has been renovated into a hub for local and international development.  The Horse Barn was built in 1882 at 33rd and Arapahoe to house the horses and horse cars used for transportation at that time.  In 2008, this was the last building standing of its kind, was in major disrepair, and had been vacant for years.  The Denver Housing Authority purchased this building intending to scrape it and build housing.  Joe Noble of the Curtis Park Neighborhood Association argued that the building has historic value and should not be destroyed – Thank you, Joe!

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The barn was developed into the Posner Center for International Development by tres birds design/build firm, which houses over 40 international development organizations, such as Elephant Energy and PowerMundo, as well as the local nonprofit, Denver Urban Gardens.  The design accommodates both private and shared work spaces, including former horse stalls transformed into private rooms, and sports an open modern kitchen for fundraisers and Urban Garden cooking classes.  The Posner Center also hosts the Curtis Park Neighborhood Association meetings.

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Through Certifiably Green Denver, the City and County of Denver offers low-cost financing for Denver businesses who wish to implement energy-efficient upgrades.  If you’re planning to implement energy projects, but lack the upfront capital, a Sustainability Adviser through Certifiably Green Denver can help you determine if a low-cost energy loan through the program is right for you.  Over 40 measures have been approved with interest rates as low as 3.75%.

Business energy loans can be used for variety of upgrades, including:

-Lighting Upgrades

-Energy Audit ASHRAE Level 2 or 3

-Energy Management

-Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)

-Office Equipment

-Laundry Equipment

-Motors and Drives

-Refrigeration, Food Service, and Grocery

-Walls and Roofing

-Water Heaters

-Renewable Energy (Solar)

To see if this loan is right for your business, contact a sustainability advisor.

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.

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Is the Denver housing market is in danger of a bubble?  If someone you know has purchased a home in the Denver metro area this past year, you will certainly have heard about skyrocketing home prices, bidding wars, and properties often selling for higher than the asking price.  Considering that the home prices have quickly been rising while our nation’s economy still feels shaky, this is an understandable concern.

As with any bubble, real estate, stock market, or otherwise, a bubble can only be predicted in hindsight.  We don’t know where the peak (or the crash, for that matter) will hit, until we are past the hump or slump.

It’s worth mentioning that the Denver real estate market was not as negatively affected as many parts of the United States during the recession.  The subprime mortgage game wasn’t as prevalent in Denver, our economy remained stronger than many major cities, and our percentage of foreclosures was considerably lower.  The Case-Shiller Denver Home Price Index reported that metro Denver home prices have met and exceeded the pre-crash peak in 2013.

Much of the price appreciation has been due to the drop in interest rates.  During the recession, interest rates have been at an all time low, in the Fed’s attempt to keep money in the system and create more consumer confidence in home-buying.  Whether the attempt was psychological or not, when you buy at a low interest rate, as long as you can make your mortgage payments, you will greatly benefit in the long run by saving a boatload of money throughout the years on interest.

Denver, depending on which statistics you read, historically has had a 5% appreciation on home values.  (I have seen statistics reporting this number as high as 9%, but for sake of being conservative, I will report the lowest number I have seen.)  Most investments won’t yield more than 10% per year on average, and let’s face it – you can’t host a holiday party in your mutual fund.

Overall, the Denver economy is pretty strong.  Even if home prices drop for a bit, they most likely will recover and continue to rise.  Our state’s population has grown at almost double the national rate over the past few years.  State Demographer, Elizabeth Garner, states that of this growth, 55-60% of people are moving here due to a job change, indicating that Colorado is showing job growth.  Also, many young families are eschewing the coastal cities for Denver for lower taxes, lower cost of living, access to parks, and sunny days.  The Denver economy continues to grow with diverse industries – natural gas, mutual funds, clean energy, technology, and well… marijuana.

So, what do I recommend?  If you’re financially and emotionally ready to purchase a home, do so.  Interest rates are still low enough that even if home prices drop after you buy, you will still save money in the long run.  The Denver economy has remained strong and shows no indicators of slowing down.  The population keeps growing in Denver, and increasing demand for homes will keep prices up.

If you think you may be ready to talk a real estate professional about purchasing or selling your home, please contact Allison Parks at Conscious Real Estate at 303-908-9873 or allison@theconsciousgroup.com.

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Conscious Group is proud to partner with Environmental Learning for Kids.  ELK is an inclusive non-profit organization that develops inspired and responsible leaders through science education and outdoor experiences for underserved, urban youth ages 5-25.

Underserved, culturally diverse youth in Arapahoe, Adams and Denver Counties do not have the same opportunities to succeed and thrive as other youth. There are far more opportunities in urban neighborhoods to skip school and join gangs than there are to become a contributing part of the community.  Eighty percent of the students that ELK works with in school programs, mostly in Denver, Commerce City and Aurora, qualify for free or reduced lunches.

Through Learning Environmental Activities for Families (LEAF), ELK’s family-based program, ELK encourages parents to experience the outdoors with their children. Parents are invited to attend all ELK activities.  As an additional source of support for students, ELK’s Youth in Natural Resources (YNR) program offers leadership development, mentoring and one-to-one assistance as students prepare for college. To date, ELK has helped secure $70,000 in scholarships for students to attend college.

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Priscilla Alcocer, a 12 year old ELK student said, “I’m only 12, and I know what college I want to go to. I know what I want to do with my life. ELK taught me you’re never too young or old to try something new or think about your future.”

I am inspired by organizations such as this that provide education and better options for our next generation.  You may donate to Environmental Learning for Kids, volunteer, or enroll your child.  Follow ELK on Facebook and Twitter to receive updates about the great work they are doing in our community!

For just $250, one student can participate in ELK activities for a year. A gift of $100 will provide 25 students with the opportunity to experience the outdoors on an ELK field trip.

As always, Conscious Real Estate contributes 10% of all commissions to the nonprofit of your choice, and ELK is a great choice!  Let’s make positive changes together in the community when you buy or sell your next home with Conscious Real Estate.  Call Allison Parks at 303-908-9873 or email allison@theconsciousgroup.com.