Nestled between University and Colorado boulevards to the east and west, and Sixth Avenue and the eponymous Cherry Creek to the north and south, the Cherry Creek neighborhood has gone through big changes in the last few decades. What had been a relatively modest and working-class ’hood began to become “the” place for scrape-and-rebuild projects. Spurred by its proximity to both the outdoor and indoor upscale shopping areas, housing followed suit, being reinvented upward, outward — and more and more expensively.
Cherry Creek is still a peaceful neighborhood — most of the time — that's full of old trees and new construction and coffee shops and restaurants and hoity-toity shopping within an easy walk. So what could upset the residents of this little enclave of invented (and expensive) tranquility? Well, at least these seven things:
7. The Homogenization of Cherry Creek North
When the Tattered Cover left Cherry Creek North, it marked the start of an exodus of independents. A lot of the stores that made the area a unique shopping destination are gone. The toy store Kazoo and Co. went out of business. The weird and wonderful Wizard's Chest moved to Broadway. Many of the restaurants that people loved — Chez Jose, Hops, The Eggshell and way too many others to list — closed their doors and disappointed a lot of stomachs in the process. Although some stalwarts have stayed, it's not easy to find them through the pricy chain stores and construction.
6. The Holdouts
Some people haven’t had the good manners to sell their old homes so that they can be scraped and rebuilt into the stucco McMansions complete with waterfalls at the entryway, huge pillars that are in no way phallic, and landscaping that cost more than the purchase price of the house that used to sit there. Single-story modest homes on a slab are so thirty years ago. If you don’t have three stories, a full basement and a rooftop patio with an outdoor kitchen, then you and your normal-sized structures are standing in the way of progress.
5. Races and Festivals
Cherry Creek is a big draw for festivals and events that leave behind tons of trash for the residents to enjoy. This last Cherry Creek Sneak, we counted four different piles of race-related crap (running bibs, freebie coupons, beer cups) stuffed into residential bushes as we walked back to our car. Add to that headache the general crowds, the parking woes, the noise on what should be a quiet morning, banks of port-a-potties, and the random bands playing on the corners with amps turned up to 11...that’s a lot of mess for a neighborhood that prides itself on tidiness.
4. Waiting for a Table at the Cherry Cricket
Duffy’s Cherry Cricket has won numerous Best of Denver awards over the years — and with good reason: The place is a city treasure. Unfortunately, it’s also a magnet for a huge number of patrons. (A good problem for a restaurant to have, for sure, but still a problem.) The wait for a table — even after the expansion into the space next door — can be torturous, especially for locals who want to walk over and grab a burger and beer.
Or, more precisely, what to do with its shell. For years, Sears and the aforementioned Cricket were the sole vestiges of what had at one time been a solid working-class retail strip adjacent to a solidly middle-class neighborhood. But times sure did change, and Sears finally fell to the pressure of what we call “progress.” This year, Sears finally took the hint that it was no longer welcome in the tony confines of Cherry Creek, and packed up its Craftsman and Kenmore and whatnot, vacating the premises. Because let’s face it, the folks willing to shell out ridiculously unnecessary money at Whole Foods are not the same customers looking to buy a six-pack of tube socks at Sears. And with the demise of the Cherry Creek Sears, we also mourn the passing of anything resembling reasonable pricing in the general vicinity.
2. That Damn Mall
In this time of the slow, sad demise of the indoor mall, it’s something of a surprise that the 25-plus-year-old Cherry Creek Shopping Center is still going strong. The mall has lost its share of chi-chi stores (Saks Fifth Avenue, most notably), but it remains a destination where tired parents can let their children loose in a soft, plastic playground. Years back it was a charming picnic, which was replaced by an equally whimsical breakfast spread, both well-loved by Denver kids whose parents just wanted a place to sit and sip a Peaberry coffee for a while. Then it became a commercial nightmare — a Warner Bros. mega-advertisement that was an ironic (and unsuccessful) choice for a climbing structure that targeted the sort of Whole Foods parents who wouldn’t buy a plastic cartoon action figure on a bet. That’s now been corrected in a partnership with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, so the Cherry Creek faithful can once again breathe easy. The world is right again. At least until the mall itself finally dies, and all that will be left is the ghostly scent of pretzels, cinnabuns and retail despair.
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1. Traffic and Parking
Boasting one of the busiest (and most dangerous) intersections in all of Denver (First and University), with a sorry runner-up at First and Steele, Cherry Creek is lousy with ways for traffic to ruin your day. The driving itself is crazy enough; don’t even get us started on parking. What used to be challenging but user-friendly back in the day (remember when the surface streets weren’t metered?) is now a complete and utter punitive shitshow. Welcome to Cherry Creek, where the high point of your experience will be finding a parking spot.