Barnum home values climb from $200k to $500k in past decade

Home prices in the Barnum and Barnum West neighborhoods have skyrocketed as buyers who want to stay in Denver look for more affordable options.

Maria Irivarren, 8z real estate agent, says she’s been “shocked to see the prices Barnum and Barnum West are now reaching.”

Homes that sell for $500,000 now sold for less than $200,000 a decade ago. “The area is seeing a rebirth as buyers priced out of Sloan’s Lake, Baker, Washington Park, or Lincoln Park neighborhoods, look for affordable options,” Irivarren says. “Barnum and Barnum West has reaped the benefits.”

Despite the rising prices, the area is still one of the most affordable in Denver, Irivarren says. It appeals to younger buyers who are purchasing their first homes.

Buyers considering Barnum want to live within 30 minutes of downtown. The neighborhood is located near Lakewood and about a 10-minute drive to Empower Field at Mile High. With access to U.S. 6 and Interstate 25, residents can easily commute to the Denver Tech Center or the western suburbs.

What’s available

Barnum and Barnum West offer a mix of housing options, Irivarren says.

Buyers can find cheaper but smaller houses like a 400-square-foot house that sold for $240,000 to a mid-sized 600-square-oot home that sold for $300,000. “These cute little guys are few and far between, and they tend to need a lot of love,” she says. “They are a handyman’s dream.”

Move-in ready houses typically cost high $300s to low $400s for 700- to 800-square feet, while larger homes in the 1,000-square-foot range cost an average of $490,000. Homes that exceed 1,500 square feet sell for $525,000 to $628,000, Irivarren says.

Most of the homes were built in the 1950s. They’re typically ranch houses with either brick or siding finishes.

With low inventory, the houses don’t stay on the market long. Most typically sell in five or fewer days, Irivarren says.

Maintaining affordability

But rising home prices also bring growing pains and fears gentrification will price current homeowners out of the neighborhood.

The West Denver Single Family Plus pilot program, launched in 2018, includes Barnum and Barnum West to help keep the neighborhoods affordable.

In May 2019, Denver City Council approved forgivable loans of up to $25,000 for moderate-income homeowners who want to build an accessory dwelling unit or ADU in West Denver.

ADUs are smaller, independent dwelling units like accessory apartments, secondary suites, or granny flats. An ADU can be a converted portion of an existing home or a new standalone structure.

Homeowners earning up to 80 percent of the area median income in nine West Denver neighborhoods can apply for loans to help pay to build an ADU. The loans are treated like grants as long as the homeowner and renters meet affordability requirements, and the rent doesn’t exceed set limits.

The program is available to homeowners in Athmar Park, Barnum, Barnum West, La Alma/Lincoln Park, Sun Valley, West Colfax, Westwood, Valverde, and Villa Park.

Improving the area

While there’s some commercial space along 1st Avenue, the neighborhood needs more commercial development to become a walkable neighborhood, Irivarren says.

“The area’s primed for a lot of commercial influence,” she says. “There’s a great opportunity to leverage existing commercial space to create more vibrant, locally-owned businesses.”

Both Barnum and Barnum West are among six neighborhoods included in Denver’s West Area Plan, which will help stave off gentrification, improve pedestrian safety, and add more locally-owned businesses and amenities. The other neighborhoods are Sun Valley, Valverde, Villa Park, and West Colfax.

Neighborhood history

Both Barnum and Barnum West take their name from Phineas T. Barnum of circus fame, who purchased land in the neighborhood in 1878. He never brought circus animals here despite tales that Barnum planned to establish a winter home for his circus in Denver.

Barnum’s daughter Helen Buchtel and her husband, William Buchtel, led development efforts.

The neighborhoods have long been a haven for working-class families.

The news and editorial staffs of The Denver Post had no role in this post’s preparation.

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