DENVER — In one of Denver's most diverse areas, local business owners say they are continually priced out by chains.
Green Valley Ranch is the fastest-growing area of the city. About 17 miles from downtown Denver, the area offers more affordable prices for families who want to buy homes.
While the price tags for homes are lower, new construction and infrastructure in the area mean higher mill levies – what homeowners and business owners pay in real estate property taxes.
Many business owners said they have been priced out of the area as a result of add-ons to the base rent when they want to set up their business in Green Valley Ranch.
Nickey Alvaro, owner of Crowning Glory Hair Salon, was in Green Valley Ranch for six years. Within that time, her rent more than doubled. She relocated to nearby Montbello for two years, and now she's in a temporary space in Aurora that is less than 300 square feet.
"We can’t afford to stay there," Alvaro said. "The rent is too high, and we can’t afford to be out there. So we have to do alternative situations like this or forced to go in Aurora."
Many of her clients have followed as she has hopped between temporary spaces. Shiva Maxey has been with her for the past 18 years.
"Everywhere she has gone I have followed her because she’s good," said Maxey, who has also become a friend. "It's a little bit of a drive [now]."
Maxey said Alvaro is the only hairdresser she has trusted, and there aren't many other options available for women with diverse hair types in the neighborhood.
"In a community that’s very diverse like that, we are getting left out," Alvaro said.
"I’ve gone through an array with her of emotions," Maxey said. "We were so happy when she found the place in Green Valley, and for so many people, it was convenient. Then, of course, when she had to move that was really sad."
Alvaro and her real-estate adviser have worked to help her return her business to the community she calls home, but it's been difficult to find anything affordable.
Many older buildings are more affordable, but there aren't many that are vacant in Green Valley Ranch, which is dominated by new builds.
Her real-estate adviser, James McPartlan, has worked with her for about three years as she seeks to relocate to the community.
"It’s extremely difficult, and it’s very sad because they live in the community,: McPartlan said. "They have been doing business in the community. They are a known commodity in the community. The price point that the nationals can pay outdistances what the mom-and-pops can buy."
Many developers would prefer to lease their properties to national chains that can often offer higher rates of income, he said.
"I understand their plight, and I feel for them," he said. "I want to get them situated back into their communities where they can continue to grow their businesses where they are a known commodity."
At one point, while Alvaro was in Green Valley Ranch, she had multiple stylists working for her. Since then, she has been forced to let people go because she doesn't have the space to accommodate as many employees.
"I won’t complain. I’m really blessed that I was able to go somewhere quickly, but I have outgrown this tremendously," Alvaro said.
She and her real-estate agent aren't giving up on returning home but know the journey will take time.
"When you’re a business owner and you have a vision, and when you are strong about where you want to be because I am strong about the location of where I want to be, I am just immovable," she said.
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