A Grateful Trip Down Memory Lane

Tracys Blog 3

By: Tracy Williams, Trade Winds Communications.

Where did the time go?

What started out as an outdated, de-commissioned airport, is now a sought-after, award-winning, 30,000+ resident, master-planned community of eclectic homeowners, business enterprises, restaurants, schools, parks, and signature events.

But as the sun sets on the development phase of this thoughtfully planned 12 neighborhood community, instead of feeling sad, most are feeling grateful to be a part of an historic journey that began more than 20 years ago.

I know I am.

On a personal note, I’m grateful for the day I drove down what is now Northfield Boulevard and saw the huge billboard announcing the up-and-coming neighborhood of Conservatory Green, which immediately caught my eye. The eco-friendly, almost bohemian, edible garden vibe of the neighborhood struck a chord with me and led me to contact Forest City, now Brookfield Properties, to let them know how excited I was about the new neighborhood – and how I wanted to play a role in promoting it to any and everyone.

Having grown up in Montbello, I saw Conservatory Green as “Montbello adjacent,” and I wanted folks like me to be aware of this gem that was right in their backyard. And guess, what? They said yes to my proposal!

I’ve now been helping to tell the story of Central Park through blogs, events, community and grassroots media outreach, and any other way we could find during this seven-year collaboration, and it has been one of the most gratifying benchmarks of my small business since its inception.

So, if you’re into gratitude like me, ‘tis the season to highlight all that we can be grateful for in Denver’s 80238 since the day ground was broken on the site of that old airport. Just look at all that we’ve discovered, accomplished and created…

From day one, Central Park’s diversity has been top of mind for builders, vendors, and residents themselves. Take Conservatory Green resident Lori Pace. As a realtor herself, she knows what sells and she wanted everyone to know about Central Park’s families and the patchwork of unique multicultural families, lifestyles, demographics and housing choices. Wanting to showcase that, she founded “Soulfully Central Park.” Now more than five years old, the group boasts members in the hundreds and gathers throughout for year for holidays, multicultural celebrations, networking, and social support.

“Central Park has become a reflection of Denver’s melting pot, and I could not be more proud to raise my family here and be a part of this active and thriving community,” said Pace. “Soulfully Central Park celebrates what is already here. We are part of the beat and rhythm of the community, and we are vibrant and colorful in more ways than one.”

And while residents of all stripes have populated this community, we’re grateful for the small, woman and minority-owned businesses that have also found a home here.

From retail clothing, self-defense, yoga and other physical activity studios, spas, chiropractors, doctors, dentists, photographers, florists and professional services. Who hasn’t livened up their holiday table with flowers from Amore Fiori Flowers and Gifts? Or strengthened their bodies with the yogis at YogaSix Northfield?

And the restaurants – oh my goodness, the restaurants. Something to please every palette and I’m grateful for some that have become my favorites like Bonchon, Zen, Four Friends Kitchen, Intersections and Cattivella. And for world-class coffee in the heart of 80238, Kabod Coffee, one of Central Park’s newest woman/minority-owned businesses, brings Ethiopia’s finest cups to patrons near and far.

Even our furry canine friends have a haven at Digstown Doggie Day Care and Northfield Veterinary Hospital to name a few.

I’m also grateful that many of these entrepreneurs are also our neighbors who have chosen to live AND work here.

And speaking of neighbors, I know I’m grateful for wonderful ones like Dr. Everette Freeman, president of the Community College of Aurora (Conservatory Green), Benilda “Benny” Samuels, CEO of Imaginable, LLC (Eastbridge), every kid’s favorite dentist Dr. Quyhn Nguyen of Lil’ Teeth Dentistry (South End), who keeps my kids’ teeth pearly and straight.

I’m grateful for the almost 20 homebuilders over the years who have provided a diverse palette of housing inventory from rentals to affordable to lavish, who in turn, provide us with an array of neighbors we might not have otherwise met.

I’m thankful for affordable housing experts like Kappa Housing, Inc., who have provided Central Park with KappaTower II for our valued seniors, community developer Getabecha “Gete” Mekonnen of Northeast Denver Housing who helped bring the vision of affordable housing to life with more than ten Central Park housing properties such as the Moline Apartments.

I’m thankful for realtors like April Denmon (Westerly Creek) and the aforementioned Lori Pace, who live, work, play and sell homes of all price ranges here.

I can’t express enough gratitude for Willow Elementary School and DSST Conservatory Green High School for giving my niece an excellent start on a top-notch education that is steering her toward college. And glad for such close proximity to the Community College of Aurora where she will likely launch her post-secondary education so close to home. And while we’re at it, let’s not forget community heroes like Northfield High School Coach Wayne Vaden who continues to groom the school’s athletes and carefully guides them to numerous track scholarships at some of country’s most prestigious four-year universities.

Tracys Neice

And as I value my own physical health more and more with each passing year, I’m grateful for the more than sixty great parks, and pools that deny me any excuse for not getting out and working up a sweat.

We were even more awed when HGTV chose Central Park for their 2011 HGTV Green Home! That was a complete thrill and a testament to Central Park’s thoughtful dedication to eco-friendly living.

And I’m even more grateful for all of the events, concerts and celebrations such as MojaBlu and Beverly Grant’s Mo’ Betta Green Marketplace and Farmer’s Market for her “soulfulluscious” bounty that graced us with health-conscious, organic veggies and fruits, live music, Tai Chi, juicing, cooking demonstrations and kiddie activities for two summers in Conservatory Green

Tai Chi
Farmers Market
Farmers Market 2

And finally, I’m thankful for this community’s support of civic organizations such as the Shaka Franklin Foundation, Sabor! at the Botanic Gardens (brought to us by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce), the Colorado Association of Black Professional Engineers and Scientists, the Shaka Franklin Foundation, the MLK annual business luncheon, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, and dozens of others who have brought visibility and a level playing field to our students, our minority-owned businesses and some of Denver’s most cherished art-driven institutions. And to think the few organizations, businesses, and neighbors I’ve highlighted only scratch the surface of the many layers of community that make up Central Park today.

It’s been a great ride and honor to witness this community’s evolution in so many ways.

What’s more, there are many more chapters to be written, despite the end of new development in Denver’s 80238.

And it’s exciting to know that we all have the opportunity to stay here and see those chapters come to life.

 

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