Battle lines drawn: Development vs. historic preservation a constant clash in Denver

LoHi neighborhood in constant new v. old conflict

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DENVER – Renovate and restore, or tear down and build new? That scenario is causing major tension in many of our Colorado communities.

In the Lower Highlands — or LoHi — for example, there is a constant struggle between developers and those with a fonder eye for history.

"This house feels like there's so much love in it,” said Ekaterina Jorgensen who is selling her home on Vallejo. She believes this house is worth fighting for.

"The house has just a warm,” Jorgensen said. “It has charm. It has character."

Built in 1886, it has a 12,000-square foot lot, 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and an old iron workshop turned into a carriage house.

“It’s special to us,” Jorgensen said.

LoHi is a neighborhood in a state of war so-to-speak.

A conflict between developers who see a gold mine in pop-tops, scrapes and three story condos, and those like Amy Berglund who want to see these old historic homes preserved.

"We're just looking for development that's historically responsible," said Berglund, a realtor with RE/MAX Professionals. "I feel like we're losing the character and the personality."

The battle lines are drawn quite differently from neighborhood to neighborhood.

For example, right next to LoHi is Potter Highlands, which doesn't have the same issue because the entire neighborhood is designated as historic.

"They came together and put forth the effort to get that designated by the National Historic Commission and the City of Denver," Berglund said.

LoHi has no such designation. So when families, like the Jorgensen's, decide to move – the battle begins.

“We feel a little encroached upon,” Jorgensen said. “In this neighborhood now, I feel a little like I’m suffocating.”

The Jorgensen’s home goes on the market this weekend for a whopping $1.8 million. A listing that will no doubt create another clash: Save the old homestead? Or scrape it for something that could certainly fetch a multi-million dollar price tag?

"It would be a complete tragedy, in my opinion, to lose a place like this,” Berglund said. “Because again, it tells the story of the neighborhood."

“I’m sure there are many people who could put the love into it and live in it the way that we have," Jorgensen said.

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