Uptown residents fight to preserve historic integrity, human scale of their neighborhood

Posted at 3:26 PM, May 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-04 21:32:57-04

Editor's Note: 'Our Colorado' stories help natives and newcomers navigate the challenges related to our rapidly growing state, including real estate and development, homelessness, transportation and more. To comment on this or other 360 stories, email us at See more 'Our Colorado' stories here.

DENVER -- Residents of Denver's Uptown on the Hill neighborhood are fighting to maintain the charm and scale of their slice of heaven just east of downtown.

"What drew us to the neighborhood originally was the affordability," said Judy Trompeter, president of the Uptown on the Hill Neighborhood Association. "Now, of course, prices are sky high."

Eugenia Renfroe can attest to that. Like many other people, she's been "pushed out" of the neighborhood by escalating costs.

"I can afford a townhouse in east Denver," she said, "but Capitol Hill, Cheesman Park; none of that anymore."

Renfroe said she's stunned by the speed and intensity of the growth.

"All of a sudden, there were just so many people, so many cars, so many changes," she said, "and so many more expenses."

Trompeter said she too doesn't like the traffic but she treasures the 'walkability' of the neighborhood.

"It's so convenient to downtown and to theaters, restaurants, grocery stores, everything like that," she said.

But the neighborhood association president told Denver7 that some residents are working to help manage the change.

Tavern Uptown Project

When a Tennessee firm submitted an application to build a ten-story apartment building at 17th and Pearl, residents started a petition drive to save the Uptown Tavern. The developer wanted to demolish the old building.

That's when the Uptown on the Hill joined with Historic Denver to save the structure.

"(The developer) was very receptive to working with us and to find a solution that would allow them to preserve and protect the entire Uptown Tavern on the Hill building and then build a new multi-family building immediately behind it," said Annie Levinsky, executive director of Historic Denver. "At Historic Denver, it's really our mission to find ways for the old and new to co-exist."

Neighborhood Name

The neighborhood, also known as North Capitol Hill, and at the east end as West City Park, stretches from Broadway to York and from Colfax to 20th and 23rd Avenues.

Trompeter said there are many buildings in that neighborhood that are historic.

She cited the Temple at 16th and Pearl, the Turnverein Dance Center at 16th & Clarkson and historic Seton House at 19th & Grant, as examples.

Mother Teresa and her Sisters of Charity used Seton House, the former Cathedral High School, as a Hospice for AIDS patients beginning in 1990.

Human Scale

Trompeter told Denver7 she wants to see Uptown on the Hill maintain it's human scale.

She said she doesn't mind a few mid-rise apartment buildings, but doesn't care for high-rises.

"The taller the buildings get, the colder the neighborhoods seems," she said. "We have trees, we have these gorgeous stone sidewalks.  That's part of our history, and so are the many porches where people can visit each other. I hope we don't lose that."