Just How Poor Are We?

by John Kiljan

Dear CLRC members and friends,

It’s a question that often comes up when citizens say that the City of Arvada should be doing more to attract high-quality retailers to central Arvada.

Typically, it comes in the form of a question such as, “Why can’t we get a Macy’s to locate in the Triangle instead of a Walmart?” And for central Arvada, the answer often comes down to the fact that we don’t make enough money to attract upper-scale retailers. People living in neighborhoods near the Arvada Triangle typically earn 30% less than the City overall.

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

There are many factors a retail chain considers about a neighborhood before deciding to invest millions of dollars to build a new outlet in one. Traffic volumes, road access, education levels, ethnic backgrounds, age distributions — those, and more, are important criteria when a store chooses a new location.

And average income is one of the biggest criteria. The most often-used statistic seems to be a neighborhood’s “median household income”. “Median” means that half the family incomes are higher and half are lower. Median income is preferred over an average income number because it discounts very high- and very low-income households.

Information on median household income levels is easy to come by for Arvada as a whole. For local neighborhoods it’s a lot harder to get that information.

According to the draft Arvada Comprehensive Plan, Arvada’s median household income was $67,000 in 2011. That’s pretty good. It’s greater than unincorporated Jefferson County ($64,000), Westminster ($63,000), Thornton ($62,000), the Denver Metro Area as a whole ($59,000), and Wheat Ridge ($48,000). Overall, Arvada is pretty well off.

However, as a part of its effort to attract businesses to the Triangle, Arvada’s urban renewal authority (AURA) has published extensive statistics for the neighborhoods immediately adjacent to the Ralston Creek shopping centers — which most of us still know as the Arvada Triangle. The Triangle (which is now officially known as Ralston Creek) includes Arvada Plaza, Arvada Square and the King Soopers and Kmart retail areas. In the nearby neighborhoods, the income numbers don’t look nearly as good.

According to the Jefferson County Business Resource Center there are 7259 households within one mile of the Triangle. And there are 42,594 households within three miles of the center of the Triangle, defined as the intersection of 58th Avenue and Independence Street.

For households within one mile of the Triangle (reaching almost to Olde Town), the median household income level drops from $67,000 a year to a mere $47,000 a year — 30% lower. For the three-mile radius, the numbers are a little better — $54,140 (or 19% lower). Those one- and three-mile income figures are for 2012, so the actual drop could be a bit worse than that.

That doesn’t mean the Triangle neighborhoods are poor. We are still pretty well off — about the same median income level as Wheat Ridge has overall. It just means that compared to other parts of Arvada, we have less discretionary income available to spend. And we offer less to retailers who have to rely on that discretionary income spending to keep their sales up.

Nor does it mean that no one wants to live in central Arvada anymore. Indeed, just the opposite seems to be true.

Central Arvada seems to be becoming a much more desirable place to live in and to raise a family in. The coming redevelopment of the Triangle, the completion of construction in Ralston Central Park and Wolff park, the coming of the Gold Line commuter rail line, the revitalization of Olde Town, the small-town feel that Arvada still has compared to most other metro-area cities — all are combining to make central Arvada a lot more attractive place to live in and to buy a home in.

Add to that a cutback in new housing construction during the Great Recession and legal impediments to building new owner-occupied condominiums, and that’s probably why for the last couple of years we haven’t been seeing FOR SALE signs popping up on lawns like mushrooms like they used to do every spring. Residential homes now seem to be selling as fast as they come onto the market.

Or even before they come on the market in what are being called off-market sales. I, and others, have heard anecdotal stories of houses getting a dozen purchase offers the day they are listed, and having a final sale price that is 50% higher than what the same house would have received only a few years earlier. (If you are selling a house, be sure to check out the referenced article below.)

The CLRC neighborhoods may be a little poorer than the rest of the City, but that doesn’t mean that central Arvada isn’t the best place to live in the City.

–John Kiljan

You can wade through a copy of the entire draft Arvada Comprehensive Plan and find out a lot about what Arvada is planning for the future by going to these links:




and, you can see the Ralston Creek Demographic Report (including the income levels) for the neighborhoods nearest the Arvada Triangle (Ralston Creek) by going to this link:


Coming Soon

Coming Soon

If you are selling your Arvada home because you need to downsize or move and your real estate agent is recommending an off-market sale, you will definitely want to read this Denver Post article on how expensive a mistake that can be. Here’s the link:


The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community is an independent neighborhood association representing the neighborhoods adjacent to Ralston Road from Wadsworth Bypass to the Kipling Parkway.

You can catch us on our main website at RalstonCommunity.org or read even more posts on our Facebook page at “CLRC – Citizens for a Liveable Ralston Community”. Hey, it’s not us. It’s Facebook that insists on spelling Livable that way.

6185 Field Street
Arvada, CO 80004


Tuesday 14 July 2014

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