How Denver's Tejon Street came back to life

New development has revitalized a once crumbling neighborhood

One of North Denver’s original “main streets” is experiencing a renaissance.

Over the years, Tejon Street went from a thriving streetcar hub with commercial centers and residences to a neglected neighborhood with crumbling houses and intense gang activity.

But in the last 10 years, with about $100 million invested in the corridor, Tejon has bounced back. Anchored by Little Man Ice Cream to the south, in what is now considered Lower Highland (LoHi), and to the north in the old Lindstrom Building in Sunnyside now housing Marley Coffee, the street is being reinvigorated with new homes and businesses.

Tejon Street’s proximity to downtown with stunning views of the Denver skyline has attracted numerous developers, who are building everything from apartments to luxury condominiums and townhouses, with total rehabs of existing homes sprinkled in between.

Projects like Tejon34, which includes 20 townhomes and eight condos, are elevating the residential game in LoHi. Prices range from $750,000 to $1.25 million, giving Tejon a luxury product that until now hasn’t been available in the neighborhood.

National developer Trammell Crow Residential recently snapped up a prime corner at West 32nd Avenue and Tejon, where it’s planning to build 106 apartments atop about 10,000 square feet of retail space. While existing retailers will have to move, at least one — Fat Jack’s Supersubs — has secured a space on Tejon.

Amazing restaurants like Linger, Jezebel’s and Old Major attract a hip crowd, while the old favorites continue to be neighborhood staples. Tamales by La Casita still dishes up the best tamales around, as evidenced by the lunchtime crowds both for in-restaurant dining and takeout.

There’s also Lechuga’s and Gaetano’s, which for nearly four decades was operated by the most infamous mobsters in Denver history — Eugene, Clyde and Chauncey Smaldone who ran a successful, undercover gambling ring upstairs from the booming restaurant.

A bit farther north in Sunnyside, Jack Pottle and Paul Tamburello, widely considered the godfather of LoHi for his redevelopment of the former Olinger Mortuary complex into restaurants, shops and the iconic Little Man Ice Cream milk can, invested in the community once again with the redevelopment of three corner buildings at West 41st Avenue and Tejon. Now open is a new coffee shop and 7,000 square feet of office space currently housing a start-up tech company.  Future plans include Kindred restaurant, a brewery and the Bath & Biscuits pet store.

As you walk the street between West 30th and West 48th avenues, there are a few vacant storefronts along the way, but it will only be a short time before they are filled. What’s evident is that a street that had fallen into decline is now bustling with people popping in and out of the restaurants, shops and fitness studios that are interspersed with a blend of contemporary residences, as well as homes in a traditional architectural style.

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