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New development would build grocery store in ‘food desert’ neighborhood of Denver

If approved by the city council later this month, a new full-service grocery store and 200 apartments could be coming to Denver's Cole Neighborhood.

A grocery store is part of a development plan that could be coming to Denver's historic Cole neighborhood, an area often referred to as a ‘food desert’ within the city.

Cole Market, which would be built at 36th and Marion, would also include 200 new apartments, 20 of which will be designated for low-income families.

If approved by the city council later this month, the full-service grocery store would also serve the Curtis Park, Five Points, RiNo and Whittier neighborhoods, while also bringing in 100 new jobs. 

Credit: KUSA

It’s a transformation City Councilman Albus Brooks, a resident of the neighborhood for the last 10 years, says needed to happen.

"You're going to see a complete transformation,” Brooks said. "If you cannot access those healthy food options within one mile, you are in a food desert.”

Brooks said the move is also an effort to build an inclusive economy.   

“This is an urban market,” Brooks said. "This is less than 1,000 feet from the A Line. This is transit-oriented development. This is the type of development we want to see.”

Credit: KUSA

The economy doesn't feel so inclusive for Toni Smith, a resident of the neighborhood for the last 13 years. Her nearest convenience shop, Five Points Market, is less than a half block away, but will be closing for good next month.

“It’s changing,” Smith said. "There’s nobody really down here that’s backing us up. Everything’s just leaving.”

Five Points Market owner John Vu blames new developments for driving up costs in the area. He was recently told his rent would be going from $900 a month to $2,500 a month.

"I have a feeling that they don't want us here,” Vu said. “…We cannot survive with almost triple the rent." 

Credit: KUSA

Vu believed his business was serving an underserved community in the city, but is confident someone else will pay the higher rate to rent out the space. 

“The market is changing, but I think going from $900 to $2,500 for our kind of business is not sustainable right now.”

The city council is expected to vote on the Cole Market during a meeting on March 11. If approved, it’ll take about 18 to 21 months to construct.  

Credit: Cole Market

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