Why South Park Hill Was Named Denver's Top Neighborhood, One of USA's Best

On the 2017 Best Places to Live rankings recently released by the Niche website, South Park Hill was named the top neighborhood in Denver, and one of the thirty finest in the entire United States.

To find out why, we reached out to Niche spokeswoman Jessica Hair, who provided details about the factors that helped South Park Hill finish so well and also revealed the site's picks for the top five neighborhoods in Colorado.

All five of them are located in the Denver area.

For more insights into South Park Hill and other Denver neighborhoods, read our interview with Hair, conducted via e-mail. That's followed on page two of this post by Niche's choices for the thirty best neighborhoods in the U.S., a stunning number of which are located in and around San Diego and San Francisco — but a handful of other states (including Colorado) are represented, too.

Westword: What are the main criteria that Niche uses to determine the best neighborhoods in the country? What are the most important factors?

Jessica Hair: Generally, our criteria for a given ranking is chosen from the available data and what our user research shows that people are looking for. For our Best Neighborhoods ranking, the main factors were Higher Education Rate, Cost of Living Grade, Housing Grade and Public Schools Grade, with many other factors like Diversity, Shortest Commute and Crime & Safety included. You can find a full breakdown of the methodology here.

Denver has a lot of great neighborhoods. Why did South Park Hill stand out above the rest?

It's true that many Denver neighborhoods score very highly in our rankings. South Park Hill earns very high scores in our Higher Education Rate, Family Grade, Shortest Commute Grade and Health & Fitness Grade, among many others.

Your rankings give South Park Hill an A+ for families. Why did it finish so well in this category?

Our Families Grade incorporates statistics about the local public schools, access to family amenities (parks, libraries, etc.), percentage of residents seventeen and under and neighborhood safety, among other factors. South Park Hill scores very highly in these areas.

Nightlife in South Park Hill earns an A. What were its best qualities in this area?

Our Nightlife Grade includes statistics about access to bars and restaurants, residents ages 18 to 34, millennial newcomers and access to movie theaters and venues. South Park Hill also scores very well across these factors.

click to enlarge A commercial area of South Park Hill. - YOUTUBE
A commercial area of South Park Hill.
Housing in South Park Hill earned an A-, as did Diversity. Housing prices are high in Denver right now, and South Park Hill is an attractive area. Is the minus because of the costs? Or was something else at play?

First, it's important to note that our A- grade means that South Park Hill scored among the top 20 percent of all ranked places for Housing and Diversity — which is great! Specifically, our Housing factor includes stats on home-to-income ratio, monthly housing costs, median home values and real estate taxes, among many other factors.

The lowest grades for South Park Hill came in the categories of Public Schools (B) and Crime and Safety (B-). What were the biggest detriments in these categories? Did they pull down the other scores? Had the grades in these categories been on par with the others South Park Hill received, would it have done even better using your metrics?

Our Public Schools grade is worth 10 percent of the total score; the Crime and Safety grade is worth 5 percent of the total score. When we choose the percentage weight for factors in a ranking, it's our goal to do so in a way that prevents any one factor from dramatically skewing the rankings. However, a B grade is still something to be proud of!

South Park Hill was the only Colorado neighborhood in your top 100. Were other neighborhoods in Colorado close to making the list? If so, which ones?

The Best Neighborhoods in Colorado are as follows:

1. South Park Hill
2. Platt Park
3. Hilltop
4. Stapleton
5. West Highland

All five of these neighborhoods earned an A+ overall Niche grade!

Is there anything I may have neglected to ask on any of these topics that you feel is important to add?

We really encourage our users to utilize the site as a tool for discovery. Aside from just these rankings, we offer in-depth profiles on every town and neighborhood in the U.S., where you'll find statistics on factors like housing costs, crime and resident demographics alongside real reviews from the people that live there. You'll also find lists of public schools for the area and homes for sale in that region.

Continue to see Niche's choices for America's thirty best neighborhoods, including South Park Hill.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts