Art, Culture and Regen Converge in Denver’s RiNo and Five Points Neighborhoods

Walking through the RiNo (River North) neighborhood of Denver, Colorado, your attention will likely be drawn to the stunning murals coloring building after building. Like it’s neighbor the Five Points district — known for its frequent mentions in Jack Kerouac’s On The Road and a history of jazz — RiNo is in an active process of regeneration, and a deliberate blending of old and new to attract residents, artists and local business. Our RiNo/Five Points mobile tour at the upcoming EcoDistricts Summit on September 15 will be a step into the heart of Denver’s art and culture scene.

Join us for the EcoDistricts Summit

September 13-15, 2016 • Denver CO


Located just north of downtown, RiNo is a former industrial district that has quickly evolved into a haven for local creatives. Galleries and studios occupy old warehouses and adaptive reuse buildings incubate startup ventures like The Source, an artisan food market.

With the explosion of growth in RiNo over the past few years, local artists, organizations, entrepreneurs and developers are working together to ensure that the looming boom of RiNo has positive, equitable repercussions for the entire community. For example, the River North Arts District organization has helped guide the redevelopment of RiNo and gives voice to artists who want to remain in the neighborhood. In the past 10 years, the organization has led the creation of both a Business Improvement District and General Improvement District to fund and support the neighborhood.

Adjacent to RiNo is Five Points, one of Denver’s oldest and most diverse neighborhoods. Five Points was the hub of Denver’s African American community in the early 20th century, and it became one of the most prosperous Black communities in the West. However, segregation and discrimination plagued the city’s Black residents long into the civil rights era, and homes, buildings, public services and safety deteriorated into the 1970’s. Today, Five Points’ Black residents are fighting to preserve the culture and integrity of their neighborhood amidst rising rents and rapid growth taking place in neighboring RiNo.

Fortunately, efforts to revitalize the historic neighborhood have started to pay off. Five Points leaders fought to receive historic district designation and preservation funding for several historic landmarks. Two historic buildings are getting a new life – the Rossonian Hotel and Benny Hooper’s Casino – which played important roles in Five Points’ renowned jazz scene. The Black American West Museum, founded in 1966, occupies the former home of a beloved black doctor. And the Blair-Caldwell Library houses a collection of materials related to African Americans in the west. Each of these institutions play a larger role in the identity of Five Points, its Black residents, and its place within the story of Denver.

The stories of RiNo and Five Points are still evolving. Purposeful, equitable, collaborative approaches to development can help preserve the neighborhoods’ unique identity.



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