When I was growing up, the most expensive place to live was in the heart of downtown Denver, near the Denver Zoo and the Denver Botanic Garden.
But now, for the first time, the cost of living in the city’s parks and parkside communities is starting to drop.
The city announced on Tuesday that it is launching a pilot program that will see rent in parkside neighborhoods increase by $1 per month.
The program is being led by the city, which hopes it will help reduce the cost and strain on residents living in such neighborhoods.
It’s also a significant step toward making Denver a more affordable place to call home.
The parkside housing market is booming.
The number of affordable homes in the Denver area grew by 40 percent between 2011 and 2020, according to the nonprofit Urban Land Institute.
But many of those homes are in the parkside areas where people want to live, where they want to play, and where they see other residents.
In Denver’s Central Park neighborhood, for example, the number of homes that are affordable to rent jumped from 862 units in 2020 to 930 in 2021.
In the neighborhood that is right near Central Park, the average rent in 2021 was $1.75 per square foot, according the Urban Land Department.
The median rent in the neighborhood, however, dropped from $1 to $1 just two years ago.
Rent in parks like the one near Central Square, which is just off the Frontage Road, was also a little more affordable, according it’s median rental price in 2021 from $3.70 to $3, according a report from the Urban Development Institute.
In some neighborhoods, the median rent is also higher.
In Central Square and Downtown East, for instance, the minimum rent for a two-bedroom apartment there is $3 per square feet, while a three-bedroom in the Park Place apartments there is at least $4.50 per square.
And even in neighborhoods like the downtown Denver area, where the median home price was $9.4 million in 2020, rents in the downtown areas are at least double that.
The change in prices is due in part to an increase in housing supply, but also to an increasing number of families moving into the parks.
And while prices in parks are generally higher than in downtown, the parks also have more residents than in other neighborhoods, so the number who are renting is higher, too.
The increase in affordable housing is part of a citywide effort to address the affordability crisis, which has been exacerbated by the rise in the cost-of-living in the cities and the rise of millennials who are leaving the workforce.
In a report released earlier this month, the National Association of Realtors called the affordability issue “the biggest issue facing our cities and towns.”
As more millennials move into the cities, they need more and more housing, said Tom Wiebe, the group’s vice president of public policy and a former U.S. Housing and Urban Development secretary.
“So the fact that the cost is so high in some neighborhoods that people have to go farther and farther away from the job centers and are finding it hard to afford rent, it’s just a real drag on the economy.”
The city is also looking at ways to encourage people to stay in parks.
The pilot program is also designed to help pay for park upkeep, and in some cases to allow people to rent out their homes to park attendants.
The goal is to make the parks more attractive to younger people and families, said city spokeswoman Jessica Hickey.
“It is really our hope that the pilot will be an example to others of what is possible when a city’s housing policy is more holistic, including a mix of low- and high-cost housing options,” Hickey said.
The average rent for an affordable two- or three-bedroom unit in the Central Square apartments, which are the largest single-family units in the region, is $2,750 per month, according its median rent.
In Downtown East and the surrounding neighborhoods, it is at $3 and $3-per-square-foot, respectively.
The park and parkplace units are in all of Denver’s parks.