Arts and Culture

Why Denver's La Alma/Lincoln Park Neighborhood Deserves to Be a "Great Place"

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The APA sings La Alma/Lincoln Park's praises by noting that it's "one of Denver's oldest neighborhoods, with a strong sense of heritage and community." The neighborhood has Latino roots -- and the organization mentions that La Alma/Lincoln Park has retained much of that culture while growing into a transit-friendly, artsy, park-y place with a variety of housing options and land uses that's close to downtown.

If all of that sounds super vague, the association offers concrete examples: the opening of the light rail station at 10th and Osage (1994), the creation of the Art District on Santa Fe (2003), the reconstruction of the La Alma Recreation Center outdoor pool (2012) and the redevelopment of the South Lincoln Park Homes housing projects (ongoing).

But the neighborhood is different than LoDo or Washington Park, which made the APA's list in 2010 and 2012, respectively. There are no skyscrapers and few trendy restaurants. The neighborhood's parks don't attract hordes of stroller-jogging moms during the week or young professionals playing shirtless volleyball on the weekends. Though La Alma/Lincoln Park doesn't have the highest number of crimes in the city, it ranks sixth. And it's home to at least one of the public school system's ten lowest performing schools.

Alyson Crabtree, the communications officer for the La Alma/Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association, recognizes that the neighborhood has its ongoing struggles, including graffiti, illegal trash dumping in the alleys and how to make space for both the homeless folks and young families who want to spend time in the parks. But she says that working toward finding positive ways to co-exist is one of the things she likes about the neighborhood.

"These are different needs and expectations, and how to have a conversation about those is something we're trying to navigate," Crabtree says. "It would thrill me if we could be the neighborhood that figures out how to do that."

Jason Jordan, the APA's director of policy, says that several of the neighborhoods on this year's list have ongoing challenges as well as successes. "There was an explicit attempt to look harder at what does it mean to be using civic capital and innovative policy ideas to move neighborhoods that are transitioning a little bit or face significant social challenges," he says."It takes all different neighborhoods for cities to thrive. ... A great neighborhood does not have to be synonymous with a wealthy neighborhood."

Continue for more on the La Alma/Lincoln Park neighborhood.

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar