Where You Can Bloom

Linda Burton posting from Denver, Colorado – “Bloom where you are planted” is a phrase we’ve all heard before. Today’s trends are busily reversing that age-old axiom to “Plant yourself where you can bloom.” Maybe it’s the high price of gas and the worry over fossil fuels. Maybe it’s the wear and tear of the daily commute, which can put you on a diet of Prilosec. Maybe it’s the longing for an Opie life, whistling as you walk to the fishing hole. Or maybe you’re a fast-tracker with an impatient soul, who wants things to happen now. Would you rather be doing than driving? According to a report by The Worldwatch Institute, 2007, for the first time in this country’s history the majority of our population lives in cities. The Baby Boomers (b 1946-1964) and the Millennials (b 1981-2000) are leading the charge; these are the two fastest growing demographics. The Millennials want a work-life balance in compact communities; 88% choose to live in an urban area. And the Baby Boomers have retirement in mind; they are thinking about having time to do things they’ve put off for years, so being close to those things is important. Denver is planning for all of that.

What’s happening here? Let’s start with downtown, the LoDo area, the Union Station project. Right now it’s a mess of dirt piles and high-reaching cranes. But just wait. When it’s done, it will literally be the “hub of the city” with six pedestrian plazas and a multimodal transit center. The new train hall will honor the historic train station (built 1914) but will accommodate as many as 10,000 people per hour; everything from Amtrak to commuter light rail to buses will come through here. In the next 10 years 150 miles of the transit system can take you north to Boulder and Longmont, south to Castle Rock, east to the International Airport, and west to Golden. In a people-friendly way.

Or stay right here in this drastically redeveloped area; a dozen city blocks that were former freight rail yards and industrial properties are being transformed into vibrant mixed-use centers; warehouses are turning into sought-after lofts; highrise apartments and city amenities will abound. Imagine the courtyard just outside the station – it was a metered parking lot; soon it will be an open courtyard offering outdoor dining and seating, and flexible event space. Imagine shaded nooks, art exhibits, serene places to eat or read or chat before your train arrives to take you somewhere else, or before you walk a few blocks home. Heck, Opie never had it so good!    http://www.lodo.org/ and http://www.denverunionstation.org/

Want to live in an already settled spot? How about a downtown National Register historic building? I was intrigued by Poets Row on Sherman Street, (near Capitol Hill and the Golden Triangle museum area); choose from the Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Eugene Field or Mark Twain apartment buildings. Built about 1938, each of these six historic buildings is as unique as the writer it is named after. The Twain Building has 12 studios and 15 one-bedrooms in close proximity to shops, restaurants, and nightlife; the Art Institute of Colorado is just around the corner and the bus stop just steps away. On Capitol Hill next to Molly Brown’s historic home is the Bartholomew, a colorful building with views across the trees to the capitol dome, and the mountains beyond.


Want to live away from downtown, but not too far; with everything you need in walking distance? Look at what they call a “downtown neighborhood” – I visited Belmar in Lakewood (a Denver suburb); it’s a 22-square-block development with an old-town village feel, but in contemporary style. There is a one-acre plaza in the middle (the town square?); it’s for concerts in the summer, ice skating in the winter, and socializing anytime. The beautifully designed apartments and condos sit on quiet streets; walk around the corner to the movies; get a manicure; hang out at your favorite restaurant. Do your shopping with no parking meters to feed and no traffic on your tail; there are 60 stores and services (and 14 restaurants) decked with flower pots and trees and sidewalk tables, a very pleasant space.

When you want more, Bear Creek Park is near, so is the Heritage Center and Lakewood Community Center; downtown Denver is 10 minutes away. Beginning at the corner of Wadsworth and Alameda; the Belmar Information Center is located at 405 S Teller Street. www.belmarcolorado.com and www.lakewood.org

Maybe you want to live completely away from big city traffic noise in a real authentic old fashioned town. Maybe you want to see mountains instead of highrises when you look up. But you’re ultro-demando; you still want to be able to get into the big city without a hassle. Where in the world can you do that?

I found a place with a perfect name – Golden. It’s a little town of 18,000 nestled in a sheltered valley fed by a clear creek. Sound too idyllic? There’s more. It sits at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, situated between Lookout Mountain and two table mountains (flat-topped mesas). In Golden, a town that was founded back in Gold Rush days, you have a beautiful backdrop no matter which direction you look. Those mesas are named North Table and South Table Mountain; the clear creek that flows between them and through the center of town is actually named Clear Creek.

Although Golden is home to people and businesses of national and international influence, it hangs on to its small-town historic identity. It has more museums per capita than any other city; it has downtown parks and restaurants with patios and don’t forget that creek. People kayak in Whitewater Park; paragliders jump off the edge of Lookout Mountain; golfers putt where dinosaurs walked at Fossil Trace Golf Club; nearly everyone hikes or skis or snowshoes in the trails around. The Colorado School of Mines is here; so is Coors, the largest brewery in the world. (By the way, Coors owns the land atop those incredible mesas; it will never be developed but always kept in its natural state.)

Whenever you’re ready for big-city action, ease onto I-70 and get to downtown in minutes, or better still, hop on the light rail and head for Union Station. Or anywhere else you want to go. http://www.cityofgolden.net/

So whether you’re a Baby Boomer or a Millennial, or somewhere in between, first decide what you need. High-activity big-city living? Small-town living in the big city? Or small-town living near the big city? When you are able to say, “I wanna be there, I wanna do that,” then plant yourself where you can bloom. Opie did.

Note about Buffalo Bill Cody: Although he traveled and performed in more than 1,400 cities in the U S and abroad with his Wild-West Show, he chose to be buried atop Lookout Mountain overlooking Golden, which he described at the prettiest place on earth.

Note for golfers: Fossil Trace Golf Club is a premier public course. Designed by noted architect Jim Engh, it opened in 2003, about 64 million years after the first dinosaurs walked where holes 11 through 15 now sit. (Triceratops footprints are adjacent to the 12th green.) It is considered one of the finest golf courses and golf experiences available in Denver, and all of Colorado. ESPN Ranks it #1; Golf Week puts it in the Top Ten in the Country; and Golf Digest gives it 4.5 stars. http://www.fossiltrace.com/PC/