The latest section we explored in Denver was the Highland neighborhood. It was full of great places to eat, great places to drink, and many areas to live, both in houses and multi-unit communities. Being close to downtown creates a large demand for many of those establishments. Just west of this area is a separate neighborhood called the West Highland. Being so close in proximity, the West Highland and Highland share a lot of history and a lot of similar characteristics. The West Highland is known for a good variety of food and boutique shops and is a desirable place to live. Being further away from downtown, the West Highland is less developed (vertically) and maintains a quieter presence, at least it does right now. In this section of ‘If You Lived in Denver…’ we’ll explore the West Highland, a neighborhood rich in culture that is also fighting to maintain its community identity.
As the live/work/play continuum expands from downtown into neighboring communities the Highland has recently seen much activity. There are many condominium and apartment communities being developed. This spread continues through the Highland and is creeping up on the West Highland neighborhood. Traditionally a quieter neighborhood, many residents feel that commercializing the neighborhood too quickly could threaten the nature of the community. There is one specific development that is the center of attention. A development group wants to put three five-story apartment buildings with about 160 rental units right in the center of the West Highland district. Many community members have responded with rallies, traffic studies, and lawsuits. This kind of problem is obviously not unique to Denver but it is an aspect I wanted to touch on. Much of what I like about Denver is that there are many small urban communities with a good variety of housing, including larger apartments/condominiums. Although I frequently enjoy the aesthetics of newer multi-unit residences, this community stance represents a good point against standardizing (and apartment-izing) every community. I enjoy the stark contrast of old and new in many communities, but I also enjoy more laid-back communities that maintain a consistent old flair.
The West Highland represents the border between old and new Denver. It will never completely be able to stand up against the winds of change but, if new development comes, I certainly hope that it fits into the mold of the community. New development needs to generate new energy without being a detriment to the uniqueness of an established neighborhood. The West Highland is a neighborhood that is making sure to fight for its own identity, and like many other neighborhoods in Denver, it is certainly a community identity worth fighting for!