Denver blog digs up dirt and demystifies the city’s rapid transformation | Opinion

Editor’s note: This is part of The Know’s new series, Staff Favorites. Each week, we will offer our opinions on the best that Colorado has to offer for dining, shopping, entertainment, outdoor activities and more. (We’ll also let you in on some hidden gems).

It’s increasingly common, even after calling Denver home for 23 years, for me to stop and wonder what block I’ve stumbled onto. That’s why I rely on the Denver Infill Blog to not only tell me what’s changed, but when and why — and what’s next for that area, block or parcel.

Since 2004 it’s been chronicling both single projects and sweeping changes in metro Denver, thanks to both planner Ken Schroeppel, who lives and works downtown and teaches at the University of Denver, and tireless co-editor Ryan Dravtiz.

Yes, I also write for a media outlet that covers this stuff with vigor and detail. But Denver Infill Blog feels complementary, not competitive, and Schroeppel and his contributors aren’t afraid of talking about the quality of transitional housing for indigent people, the merits (or obstacles) of historical preservation, or how some areas fare terribly with public transportation.

There’s insight into the much-hyped One River North project, a RiNo building whose façade is riven with a smooth, winding “canyon” packed with plants. Unlike most news reports, you can follow its detailed progress at Denver Infill Blog with technical specs, close-up photos and light, expert commentary — all part of a roundup of RiNo District East and Cole neighborhood projects, featuring 80 images and buildings organized by address.

The site started as Denver Infill, which still exists as an archive, and has transitioned into the less-updated blog version, itself a companion site to Schroeppel’s also-great Infill is still my favorite, a slippery, shining rabbit hole of well-lit skyline candy and wonky details, with much credit to Dravitz, who has shot more than 20,000 photos since joining in 2011.

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I also appreciate Denver Infill’s advocacy for reuse and community development. Not real estate development, per se, and that’s an important point. The contributors look beyond binary reactions to new projects. They wonder how these buildings will affect neighbors, whatever their concerns may be. They add nuance and thoughtfulness to citywide debates, but also scratch an itch, if you’re someone like me, with a satisfyingly detailed tick-tock of visual change.

I check there for updates about Welton Street from the Central Business District to 28th Street — a once-squat historical strip now lined with same-y, sun-blotting high-rises. Or the various haunts connecting West 38th Avenue to the I-25 corridor — a.k.a. the Highland neighborhood, now lousy with slot housing — and pretty much anywhere in what’s now called RiNo. Or the entire Platte Valley.

As we think about how we can revive downtown, how to care for our less fortunate residents, and whether most of us will ever be able to afford a home, Denver Infill Blog should be a trusted friend. Yeah, it’s niche and nerdy. But it’s helped me make sense of dozens of whiplash changes in Denver.

I also like a good advocate for city living. As Schroeppel writes at “We loathe surface parking lots and seek their eradication from Denver’s urban core!”

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