Tag, You're It

Although Mayor Hickenlooper's anti-graffiti summit is slated for tomorrow at the Botanic Gardens, one Denver vandal has already held a much more informal summit of his own in the Highlands neighborhood. Except this individual's message, as far as anyone can tell, is anti-gentrification.

"IF you BuiLD tHey wiLL comE" reads the five-foot-tall tag, which was left on the front panels of the freshly constructed building at 3528 Tejon during the wee hours of October 15.

This stretch of Denver has seen a series of condo and office projects built recently (with many more to come) amid the bungalows and modest apartments of the district known as "Lower Highlands." The area has a long history of housing the city's immigrants -- first Italians and now Latinos. According to 2000 census figures, the current population is between 62 and 84 percent Hispanic. But those demographics have undoubtedly changed as redevelopment in the nearby Central Platte Valley has drawn the eyes of real estate speculators and fix-and-flip artists, who've identified the once-lower-income enclave as the next hot investment.

The office and residential units at 3528 Tejon range from $310,000 to $325,000 and offer a clean, stylistic design to this quiet (and clearly underutilized) corridor. With the creeping influx of coffee shops, hip restaurants and clothing boutiques, the white and upper-class are buying in -- and longtime residents are feeling the push. This frustrated tagger may think he or she found a tangible target, but when it comes to this neighborhood, the writing was already on the wall. -- Jared Jacang Maher

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