I live in the belly of the beast, Denver's hottest restaurant neighborhood: Lower Highland, or LoHi, as developers have dubbed it. (In response, I refer to my particular block as SoLola -- south of Lola.) And with the news that Tavern Hospitality Group plans to put a Tavern LoHi here, the area isn't just white-hot -- some of its residents are on fire.
The group recently bought the last building on 15th Street at Boulder -- the last remaining building from a row of several-story Victorian structures that once lined this side of the block, until a fire wiped out most of them decades ago. The one that survived happened to hold the original Muddy Waters of the Platte, a classic coffeehouse in the late '70s -- and the draw that first introduced me to the neighborhood I moved into fifteen years later.
Even then, the area was not desirable. But two decades later, the gang fights have been replaced by battles over parking places. Late for a meeting at Lola yesterday, I zoomed straight from the office to the parking lot across the street from the restaurant -- only to find that it had just been turned to a paid lot: $5 for two hours, and more if you happen to overstay your welcome. (This, by the way, was the same lot that restaurant reviewer Laura Shunk, who had an apartment across the way, had parked in when she went to New York for a week -- only to learn on her return that the lot had banned overnight parking while she'd been gone, and her car had been towed.)
After I emptied my wallet, I drove the two blocks to my house...only to find that there was no parking on my street, either, and wound up another two blocks away. This is the price you pay for living in a newly desirable neighborhood, and it seems a fair trade for improving property values and safer surroundings.
Still, nothing gets people hotter in this town than the problems of parking in a hot neighborhood. The Tavern Hospitality Group did the right thing by buying a building with parking, where it plans to put in more parking underground, 160 spaces in all -- more than enough to take care of their customers.
Still, whenever we write about LoHi, heated comments follow. Just take a look at the comments left after our post on the Tavern Hospitality Group's plans for the area:
"I think when a Tavern moves into your neighborhood, it has reached the gentrification tipping point and is time to flee to greener (hipper) pastures."
"Potter Highlands, I mean LoHi, has officially jumped the shark. What shred of character that was left is being destroyed by cheaply built condos and the THG will put the final stake in its heart.
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"Gross! A neighborhood that once had personality. I hope they have parking. Which valet can run faster, Linger, Ale House, or Tavern?"
And finally, this entreaty from a resident of an area very south of SoLoLa:
"Come to Highlands Ranch, especially near University and Highlands Ranch Pkwy. We'll welcome you with open arms. The burbs are virgin territory. We'll love you here. F the spoiled hipsters."
There are a million parking stories in the naked city. Read about restaurant reviewer Laura Shunk's in "Dining in LoHi? Make sure you follow all posted parking signs."