How a Community in Denver Was Designed to Create Interaction of Its Residents – The Story of Highlands’ Garden Village

Elitch Gardens amusement park moved to downtown Denver in 1990. That left 27 acres to be developed only 10 minutes from downtown. Most developers would have created blocks with houses or put up big apartment buildings. Fortunately for Denver, the developer Perry Rose created an amazingly diverse, award winning mixed-use community. They created a neighborhood where you can live, work and shop within minutes from your home.

There are 52 single family homes, 38 townhomes and condos, 33 homes in a co-housing configuration, 20 carriage homes over garages, 63 apartments for seniors, 26 live/work lofts and 74 rental apartments. 25% of the apartments are for Denver residents who make less than 50% of the cities median income. 40% of the senior housing apartments are for residents who make less than 60% of the median income for the area.

Highlands' Garden Village Co-housingHighlands' Garden Village Co-Housng


There were a couple of features from the amusement park that were left. One was the Carousel, which was restored and is in one of the community parks. The restored theater is used for community events and performances. Trees were salvaged as were 30 tons of concrete. They made the homes energy efficient. Wind power was used for the senior apartments and multifamily homes.

Some of Highlands' Garden Village community gardens

Some of Highlands’ Garden Village community gardens

They put in narrow streets that often ended at T-intersections. This creates an area where people are forced to drive slowly and pay attention. It is transit oriented and designed with environmentally responsible features. The community’s buildings are partially made of recycled materials and have energy efficient windows and water-efficient appliances.

Concert in the Park

Concert in the Park

Movie in the park

Movie in the park

They have community concerts, farmers markets, community gardens, movies in the park, and lots of other ways to increase neighbors getting together. There is a walkable center with 75,000 square feet of commercial space, 1/3 of that is taken up by a natural food store.

Highlands' Garden Village Farmers Market

Volunteer Gardeners Helping

Volunteer Gardeners Helping

This Highlands’ Garden Village offers everything and more of what I remember growing up in a wonderful neighborhood in Minneapolis where we all knew our neighbors. I hope developers will look at this community as an example of what can be designed and built to encourage community interaction and support.

Do you know of communities like this that are designed to encourage interaction? Let me know by adding a comment below. I would like to know stories of what you like in your neighborhood. Has your neighborhood changed? What works? What doesn’t work? Log in on our home page. I will include in my upcoming book or future blogs.

Fun in the fall

Highlands' Garden Village

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