On weekdays, Charlie Lybrand’s car doesn’t budge from its parking space. A student of economics at Denver’s Metropolitan State College, Lybrand lives in an apartment complex in the suburb of Englewood. Just out the door is a light-rail station.
"I use it every day," says Lybrand.
"I never drive my car, unless I go to the mountains."
rock and ice climber, Lybrand named his husky-malamute dog
"Makalu," after the world’s fifth-highest mountain, which he
someday hopes to climb; Alaska’s Denali is also one of his
goals. For the moment, though, the 23-year-old likes to party: "I
hop on the light rail and go downtown, so I don’t have to
worry about driving," he says.
The 480-unit apartment
complex Lybrand calls home is one of metro Denver’s most
prominent examples of transit-oriented development. Alexan City
Center is part of a redevelopment project on the site of a former
shopping center, Cinderella City. The complex has a gym, a library,
and a museum, along with coffee shops, pubs, and other urban
Rents range from $700 for a one-bedroom to
$1,300 for a three-bedroom. That’s high by local standards,
but tenants figure they more than make up the difference in reduced
transportation costs. The complex attracts some couples, even a few
with children, and occasionally older people. Young singles,
Vicki Abrams, 24, who works
downtown as a leasing agent, chose to live here specifically
because of the light-rail connection. A hockey fan, she uses the
train to go to Avalanche games. She likes the urban environment,
with concerts, the corner pub and a grocery store just a short walk
away. "You can live, play and shop all in one place," she says.
Still, Abrams eventually wants a
family — and when she does, she wants the American dream, a
single-family home. "It feels like I’m in college," she says
of the project. "You don’t have a yard to yourself. You
don’t have any privacy. If I have family and children,
I’d rather have a house."