Englewood latest Colorado community to seek strong identity

March 09, 2015

Denver Post

As one of Denver’s older suburbs, Englewood has the longevity to tell its own stories and cement its place as an enduring community in the metro area.

But that history, which dates back to its incorporation in 1903, also means the city risks getting stuck in its past — in an era that has been surpassed by technology, transit and new housing options.

“We have to come up with an identity people can connect with,” said Leigh Ann Hoffhines, an Englewood employee who is heading up the rebranding effort that will give the city a new logo, identity and vision statement. “Englewood is kind of a quirky mix across the board, not just for the business community but for the larger community as well.”

The city of 30,000 or so borders Denver, Greenwood Village, Cherry Hills Village and Littleton, and is a mix of older suburban single-family homes and, increasingly so, multifamily apartment buildings.

The city still uses the logo it adopted in the early 1970s. For just about everyone, it’s time for an update. But how to get there isn’t clear.

“Things are changing and we need to keep up with it, but we want to keep that small-town feeling,” said 67-year-old Donald Roth, who has lived in the city since 1952. “We do need to plan for the future.”

What that future looks like depends on who you are. Roth admits there is a resistance to change on the part of many folks of his generation, who have grown comfortable with the way things are.

Like much of the metro area, Englewood is seeing a burst of residential construction. There are more than 600 apartments being built and another 500 or so in the approvals pipeline.

The city says its millennial population — those mostly in their 20s and 30s — is higher than in any other peer community.

But with slightly more than half of residents renting rather than owning their homes, Amy Martinez worries that Englewood may appear to outsiders as a “transient” community where people don’t put down roots.

Martinez, 36, just bought her first house in Englewood and is looking forward to being a part of the rebranding discussion the city is embarking on as part of an update of its comprehensive plan.

“We’re trying to figure out who we are now, not who we were 30 years ago,” she said.

Councilman Joe Jefferson, an Englewood native and at 35 the youngest member of the council, said he doesn’t see multigenerational goals as “mutually exclusive.”

He said it’s more a matter of “creating a perception of a more desirable place to live,” a place where there are distinct and unique neighborhoods that people can identify with and embrace, like Denver’s Baker, Highland or Park Hill.

Littleton underwent a perceptual face-lift three years ago after being told by a graduate class at the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business that the city had no identifiable brand.