By JIM SMITH, Realtor ®
As a “semi-native” of Denver — my family moved to Capitol Hill from Maine when I was in kindergarten — I have always loved Denver, but I recognize the yearning of Denverites to “go further west,” either to Jefferson County or into the foothills.
As a kindergartner at Dora Moore School, as a 1st and 2nd grader at St. Anne’s Episcopal School, and as a 3rd grader at Stevens Elementary School, I developed fond memories of life in Denver during the 1950’s and driving into the mountains to picnic along Clear Creek. At that time, Arapahoe Basin was about the only place to go skiing. I remember playing with my battery powered boat on City Park lake and attending Easter sunrise services at Red Rocks.
I remember living at 721 Marion Street, when President Eisenhower would stay at his wife Mamie’s home a block away. There was none of the security we see today, of course. The Secret Service set up shop in their garage on the alley, and none of the streets were closed off. The good old days!
I remember all my addresses when we lived in Denver — 1020 7th Avenue, 2100 S. Josephine St. (later the Lamont School of Music, where my second wife took classes!) and 1444 St. Paul Street (later replaced by an apartment building).
The weather is what I remember best. That was when the Denver Post boasted on its front page banner that it was “The Climate Capital of the World.” I couldn’t wait to move back to Denver from New York as a 41-year-old and experience again that great climate and wonderful life that I remembered as a child!
Six years later, in 1997, I felt the pull of the mountains and moved again, this time to Golden, where I bought the first of six homes I have owned in or near that one-time territorial capital, still the county seat for Jefferson County.
Denver’s founding fathers felt that pull too, creating “Denver Mountain Parks,” 14,000 acres of parks and conservation areas that include Red Rocks, Winter Park, Genesee and Lookout Mountains, even part of Mount Evans — all outside Denver’s city limits! No other city in America has made such an investment.
Since becoming a Realtor in 2003, I’ve observed a migratory pattern among metro home buyers. It starts in Wash Park and arcs through Highlands and Berkeley and ends in Golden. Some buyers skip and move straight from Wash Park to Golden, although the inventory is rather limited now — just 13 active listings and 22 under contract as I write this on Tuesday, Sept. 5th. (Those figures are for the City of Golden. There are another 140 active listings and 87 under contract with Golden addresses but outside Golden.)
What draws buyers to Jefferson County, not just Golden? First and foremost, it’s our proximity to the mountains. Indeed, roughly half of the county is in the mountains! The air is cleaner here, crime is minimal, and traffic is lighter. Despite increasing home values in Jefferson County, Denver buyers are finding that real estate is more affordable here, too. I’m happy to help them find their dream home in Jefferson County.
The schools are good, even great. Jeffco Schools has a week-long Outdoor Lab, which every 6th grader gets to participate in, at one of two mountain retreats for all kinds of outdoor education and experience. Learn about it at www.OutdoorLabFoundation.org.
Jefferson County has the nation’s first sales-tax funded open space program. The 1/2 percent sale tax passed in 1972 has led to the purchase of 53,000 acres of park land with over 230 miles of trails. Learn more at jeffco.us/open-space/.