The neighborhood to the North of downtown Denver is called "Five Points". In recent times, it has been one of the city's most distressed neighborhoods. But, the same class of developers who brought us LoDo, the South Platte neighborhood, and Uptown (f.k.a. North Capital Hill) are now taking a big gamble on the idea that they can turn a small swath of Five Points near Coors Field into a high end "Ballpark" neighborhood with expensive townhouses and condos.
Outside of the gentrification area, Five Points is undergoing a different kind of transformation. Historically, it has been a predominantly black neighborhood, but the most recent census tract data indicated that black residents of the neighborhood are increasingly being replaced by Hispanic residents, while many black residents are moving to other historically black neighborhoods to the East, to new neighborhoods like Gateway, and to the suburbs.
The large public housing project near downtown in the neighborhood is also undergoing transformation -- it was originally going to be converted into non-subsidized units by the developers when their HUD obligation expired, then was bought by the City, and then was discovered to be in such bad shape that it was temporarily shut down for renovations, even though one of the City's purposes in buying it had been to prevent the mass displacements that arose from the original developer's eviction of the residents so that they could upgrade the housing stock there for the general public.
Unlike the urban renewal programs of the 1970s which have been widely condemned by later urban planners and urban historians, gentrification efforts like those in the Ballpark neighborhood are simply part of the natural life cycle of a vibrant city like Denver. While the city has allowed the boosters to set up a historic district, these projects have not been accomplished using governmental sticks, like the power of eminent domain, or carrots, like huge tax breaks or loan guarantees. The City has given fair and helpful assistance to the developers in the zoning process, but little more. As a result, residents move out piecemeal, in chunks small enough for the community to absorb socially, homeowner's leave only when and if they are ready and are well compensated in the process, and because the move is from one kind of residential use to another with similar density, albeit of a very different character, the new residents can sometimes find common ground with the old ones to improve community resources like parks, businesses and other public spaces. This isn't to say that neighborhood transformation is ever comfortable for all involved, or that there aren't renters in the neighorhood who will now be forced to move much further out to avoid rising rents as the area changes, but it could be worse.
By comparison, the Auraria campus near downtown, which houses CU-Denver, the Community College of Denver and Metropolitan State College, was built as part of the 1970s urban renewal movement in a style typical of that era. The government condemned and bulldozed a huge swath of a relatively healthy working class neighborhood adjacent to downtown, dispersing the previously cohesive community as people sought new residents all over the metropolitan area. Another swath of that neighborhood became the Parkway complex, which due to its supermarket, offices, senior residences, townhouse complex and large numbers of mid-range apartments, managed to acquire the critical mass it needed to become a neighborhood of its own. The remainder of that neighborhood, Lincoln Park, has never really recovered, and a decision to put one of the city's largest public housing projects in that neighborhood dealt a crippling blow to a neighborhood already amputated by the Auraria development. West High School (even the International program in the school will be moving to a separate campus) and Greenlee Elementary School have not thrived, further impairing postitive development in the neighborhood, Sante Fe Avenue struggles to become a new avant guard main street of galleries, small theater companies, Hispanic oriented businesses and non-profits despite these pressures, and Sunken Gardens Park in front of West High School, once home to Denver's answer to New York's Rockefeller Center outdoor ice skating rink has now ceded that honor to the Cherry Creek mall.
Time will tell if the Ballpark developers will lose their shirts, or will prosper as Mayor Hickenlooper did in LoDo. Overall, my sentiments are that new high end development in the vicinity of downtown (and likely favored by those who spend a lot of time downtown, in many cases because they work there), isn't a bad thing.