If our Angry Neighborhoods series has proven anything, it’s that living in different parts of Denver can mean completely different experiences — and perhaps no other neighborhood in the city exemplifies this as well as downtown.
Downtown Denver resembles the city living of other major metropolitan areas in some ways: high-rise buildings, bars and restaurants, that low hum of the city center that lets you know that, yes, there are other human beings living all around you. There’s comfort in that.
But city living isn’t all roses. Aside from the high cost (which isn’t so much an annoyance as it is a fact of life), there are definitely some downers to living downtown. Here are ten of them:
10. The 16th Street Mall
Between roving mobs of rowdy kids and the ever-present panhandlers, the 16th Street Mall is the one Denver attraction that people who actually have a home downtown will almost always work to avoid. (Of course, there are many who will make the opposing case.) But most downtown denizens agree: There’s just nothing there for them, aside from the occasional quick bite to eat or catching a flick at the Pavilions. At least the Paramount entrance is off the mall, so residents can see a show without subjecting themselves to the pit of despair that is 16th Street.
The pickings are pretty slim for downtown Denverites going for groceries — so slim, in fact, that I know of three couples who loved their downtown lofts but eventually moved (two to Highland, one to Curtis Park) because there just weren’t any places to stock up on supplies. There's been talk for years of addressing this issue, but despite promises, nothing big has developed. The new (but small) King Soopers over by the ballpark is nice, but it's still not an easy walk. Your only other options are the Safeway on Park Avenue West and the underground Soopers off Speer. None of them are conducive to grabbing groceries on the go.
8. All the Noise, Noise, Noise, Noise
Lots of people who choose to live downtown love the buzz of the city — and then there’s the ear-splitting interruptions to that low-level white noise that they love. From constant construction commotion to motorcycles revving unnecessarily and screaming on relatively empty middle-of-the-night streets, there are a lot of obnoxious sounds downtown. The occasional siren? Cool. The distant whoops and hollers of drunk clubbers on Market? Fine. But please: Keep your crotch rockets in your own neighborhood.
7. Rockies Games
Yes, it’s awesome to be able to just up and leisurely walk to Coors Field. But the downside is that you have to live among the throngs of die-hard fans (pretty much the only ones still attending games are die-hards and visitors to our fair city). There are enough reasons to dislike Dick Monfort, but for downtown residents, here’s one more.
6. Restaurants That Don’t Stay Open
Downtown recently lost several stellar dining options, including longtime brunch favorite Mona’s, the Celtic Tavern and Delaney's, and Pop's Place, a standout diner that took the place of Lower48 Kitchen — another standout that couldn't make it, either. That’s a lot of places to lose in a short amount of time, but it’s not all that unusual for downtown, where rents are high, transportation hassles sometimes prevent patronage, and chains like the Cheesecake Factory keep attracting crowds. It’s sad when your favorite joints just up and disappear, taking with them all your creature-comfort dishes.
Keep reading for more things that make downtown Denver residents mad.
Everyone gets annoyed by parking issues, but think about having to deal with downtown parking costs and hassles on a daily basis. Yes, living downtown is a convenience, and yes, most people pay a premium for that and get a parking space for their personal use. But just try to have relatives in from out of town, or (God help you) a party. Those two “visitor” spots for your building aren’t going to cut it.
Dear God, people, stop looking up. This isn’t New York City, or Chicago, or San Francisco, or even St. Louis. There’s nothing up there. The skyline is gorgeous, yes, but not in any way you need to gawk at. Just move along the 16th Street Mall at a normal pace. Don’t take a picture of that; it’s a piano on a median. Is that important? Keep moving. Please. The Chili’s is just up the street on your left. We know that’s where you’re going.
3. Street Closures
Races, parades, festivals…you name it, it’s going to absolutely shut down some streets and disrupt traffic patterns something fierce. Downtown residents work to have a good attitude about it — community spirit, and all that — but after a while, your skin gets hard and you start resenting the annual two-night invasion that is the Parade of Lights. Sure, it’s festive and glorious and a local tradition (and what else would the staff of 9News do for the holidays?), but how often can you get excited about the same inflatable marching penguin?
2. Neighbors Who Try to Raise Kids There
Most people love kids. They’re charming, or can be when they’re not crapping or crying or generally getting in the way of what you as an adult are trying to enjoy. But, seriously, there’s a reason we built Stapleton, people, and that’s to serve as a comfortable place for those folks who insist on having children. In Stapleton, there are parks. There are basketball courts. There are signs that say, “Drive Like Your Kids Live Here.” (There are also douchebags without kids who have those signs just because they want to control how you drive, but that’s another article completely.) Downtown has none of those things, and downtown douchebags are of a completely different stripe. So when downtown residents have a kid, it doesn’t take long before they're trading their awesome fourth-floor loft in for a three-bed-four-bath courtyard cookie-cutter with a two-story foyer and an obnoxious amount of decorative tile.
Because Sartre was right: Hell is other people.
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