I first met Paul Karolyi, founder of the podcast Changing Denver, on November 8, 2016—a memorable evening. Fortunately, Paul and I were able to find plenty to talk about to distract ourselves from national politics. Although I grew up in the Denver area and Paul is a relatively new arrival, we both love to discuss the minutiae of our changing city.
We started talking about Arapahoe Square. If you’re wondering where that is, well, it’s where all the cranes are right now. More specifically, it’s the area between 20th Street, Larimer, 24th Street, and Glenarm. It was also home to the Denver VOICE vendor office until 2015.
Denver has been changing fast over the past couple years, and that change has been pretty uniform so far: older buildings and older single-family homes being torn down for new development. Arapahoe Square is a little different in that most of it was bulldozed decades ago. Much of the area has been used for surface parking lots since then.
Developers call an area like Arapahoe Square a blank slate. That might sound a little ominous, but if the city gets serious about affordable housing efforts, it doesn’t have to be. Unlike the VOICE, many of the homeless services agencies still in the area own their buildings, and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. There is potential in Arapahoe Square for a brand new mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood, one that a diverse group of people can actually afford to live in. Now that would be a welcome change. ■