Going My Way

Meet us on Alameda, where cultures collide. In a good way.

"I've been lucky. I've been here 25 years," Fitz says. "There's been a change in the American public and how they perceive pets. They're willing to do anything." In 1957, he says, a study found that 54 percent of the nation considered their pets to be part of the family. Today, that statistic is 97 percent.

Fitz himself only has one pet, Yoda, a six-year-old charcoal-colored Chihuahua mix who recently had knee surgery and is undergoing physical therapy now in one of the underwater treadmills. "He's no trouble; we're both bachelors," Fitz says. In fact, Yoda is the only dog allowed into the cigar shop on Sixth Avenue where the doctor hangs out.

But back to the chinchillas. "They're cute little guys, aren't they?" Fitz asks. "But you have no balls, do you? No balls," he adds, turning his attention to the fuzzy little varmints. Aside from the chinchillas, Fitz has already seen a dog with a high fever this morning, a ferret who was mauled by a dog and is getting a blood transfusion, a dehydrated leopard gecko who belongs to a local school, a carpet eater who was vomiting and a constipated canine whose owner nervously paced the waiting room.

Nothing's funny at the Great Clown's Inn.
Nothing's funny at the Great Clown's Inn.

Details

This is the fifth in our occasional profiles of metro Denver roads. To read the first four a day in the lives of Sheridan, Federal, Colfax and Broadway go to westword.com. For more scenes and photos from Alameda, plus a slide show from the Parade of Homes, click here.

As vet to the stars, Alameda East has also seen its share of unusual creatures, including a monkey with a broken arm from the Denver Zoo, a bear cub, a hyena, a penguin from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and an alligator confiscated by police during a drug raid. Oh, and a tortoise named Nick.

"Yep," concludes the doctor. "We see whatever the streets of Denver spit up at us." — Jonathan Shikes

Solterra, 2008 Parade of Homes
West Alameda Parkway and South Indiana Street, Lakewood
10:35 a.m.

The freshly laid squares of sod at the entrance to Solterra are already starting to look parched in spots. It's as if the land isn't quite ready to take on this odd graft of a master-planned community, with its sprinklers and puny trees, instant roads and checkerboard turf, planted brusquely on the bare, dun-colored hills.

But ready or not, here they come, pardner.

The upscale $550 million Solterra project is expected to sprout 1,440 homes on land that was once part of the Rooney Ranch, a scenic valley below the Dakota Hogback that was homesteaded decades before Colorado achieved statehood and remained in the hands of the same family for six generations. Only the ranch house remains now. The rest of the 4,500-acre spread has been broken up amid open space, the construction of C-470, and planned Lakewood and Jefferson County developments, centering around the new Alameda-470 interchange, just a lawn-tractor ride away from Solterra.

The valley is the last great unprotected chunk of land between the metroplex and the foothills, but much of it is scheduled to go under the bulldozer. In addition to Solterra, county officials have announced plans for a "Tech Center West" at the interchange — thousands of new jobs and homes, millions of feet of office space, that kind of thing.

The advance guard of all this hustle and muscle is the 2008 Parade of Homes, which will open at Solterra on July 26. The eight show homes are opulent expressions of the "European hilltown" style of architecture that's supposed to be the prevalent theme of the community: a mishmash of Tuscan villa, French Provençal and Andalusian delusion. They range in price from $1.95 million to $2.5 million — which, though a bit steep for your average cowboy, is actually a bit more "affordable" than some previous Parade monstrosities. In fact, they are a vast improvement over the maritime-themed offerings at last year's Parade in Aurora. Solterra's showcase mansions are both cavernous and airy, with eye-bugging views of the Front Range, the obligatory stadium-sized master suites, arena-sized closets and granite-islanded kitchens, and enough bathrooms, wine cellars, billiard rooms and home theaters to keep the entire Mormon Tabernacle Choir in thrall (assuming the choristers shoot pool and sneak a drink now and then).

There's even a concerted effort to make these humble hilltown havens "green" — at least, as green as an 8,800-square-foot, luxury custom home loaded with imported materials, a four-car garage and a carbon footprint the size of Sasquatch can be. The Casa Vecchio E Nuovo, the top award-winner among the show homes, sports kitchen cabinets made of Brazilian lyptus, a tree that can be harvested every fourteen years; reclaimed timbers for ceiling beams; a high-efficiency furnace and high-rated insulation; dual-flush toilets, and so on. Other homes have similar features, and the Bella Vista next door even boasts cabinets made from beetle-killed lodgepole pine.

The homes also have plenty of mirrors and windows, to fully capture the views of the foothills, the surrounding open space and the proud homeowners. Just how wonderful all this feels probably depends on which side of the glass you're on. For the fortunate few, the Parade and Solterra represent a little slice of Ye Olde Europa situated in a lovely, unexploited corner of the city, just moments from the beltway. Que bella!

For the folks in the teeming suburbs beyond, it's another subdivision blocking the view. — Alan Prendergast

Alameda Square
2200 West Alameda Avenue
11:02 a.m.

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