After the LoDo nickname caught on for lower downtown, many other neighborhoods tried on new monikers for size, including NoDo, in the then-down-and-out area just northeast of LoDo. But none really caught on until the old Olinger mortuary was redeveloped in Highland in the early 2000s, and Dave Query's Big Red F group moved the popular Lola restaurant from Platte Park to this still sleepy area on the bluff overlooking downtown.
"I was always checking in," says Paul Tamburello, who redeveloped the Olinger property. "One day Dave said,
'Dude, we've got to do something down here; every time we tell people our restaurant is in Highland, they go to Highland Square." And that development on West 32nd Avenue was miles away from the corner of 16th and Boulder streets, which is right on the lower edge of what had once been the actual town of Highland.
"It kept going on and on and on, and we started brainstorming names," Tamburello remembers. "We kicked around a bunch of names, and started calling it the LoHi Marketplace."
The name just applied to the Olinger complex. But no more than a month later, Tamburello heard that a realtor had used the term "LoHi" in an ad. Then it showed up in more ads, and on businesses in the area. "We never branded it, it took off so fast," Tamburello says. "Next thing you know, we're in LoHi."
And the next thing Denver knew, LoHi was booming; the number of restaurants and bars in the area doubled in just a few years, then tripled; Tamburello added his own Little Man Ice Cream to the LoHi Marketplace, and redeveloped another Olinger building that today includes Linger as well as retail shops. And business in what's now almost universally, if unofficially, known as LoHi continues to boom.
Not everyone appreciated the changes. A historian told Tamburello that the nickname had destroyed the neighborhood. Whatever that neighborhood might be.
"What are the boundaries?" ponders Tamburello. "I don't really know."
Just look for the giant milk can. Welcome to LoHi.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.