What we know about Wheat Ridge

Interesting things about us…

Population growth returned in the 2010s.

  • In the 2010s, Wheat Ridge grew for the third decade in its history.
  • Population growth was partially driven by Millennials moving into the city.

Since becoming a city, Wheat Ridge has never experienced periods of rapid population growth. Its highest rate of growth occurred in the 1990s when the population increased by about 12%. Wheat Ridge actually lost population during the 1980s and the 2000s.

Between 2010 and 2020 was a decade of population growth again for the city. New population was partially attributable to members of the Millennial generation moving into Wheat Ridge.Column chart showing Wheat Ridge. population from 1970 to 2020, with highest count in 2000 with 32,913 and lowest in 29,419 in 1990. (Source: U.S. Census)

Wheat Ridge got a bit younger in the 2010s.

  • Median age fell by over 2.5 years during the decade.
  • City’s Millennial population grew by over 60%.

By 2010, Wheat Ridge had become an older community with a median age (43.7 years) that was three full years older than the median for Jefferson County (36.8 years). Between 2010 and 2020, however, Wheat Ridge’s median age fell by over 2.5 years to 41.1 years while the county’s remained about the same. This lower median age was partially a result of younger people moving into Wheat Ridge. During the decade, the number of Millennials born 1981-1995 increased by over 3,000 people (a 62% increase), as the numbers of residents in older generations fell.

Table 1: Median Age, 2000-2020 (Source: U.S. Census)

Wheat Ridge
Jefferson County
43 7

Line graph showing the population of different generations in Wheat Ridge from 2000 to 2020. During 2010 to 2022, the number of Millennials increased by 3,000 people as the numbers of residents in older generations fell. (Source: U.S. Census)

Educational attainment and incomes are on the rise.

  • Wheat Ridge’s college degree attainment grew faster than Jefferson County’s in the late 2010s.
  • Median incomes increased their rate of growth in the late 2010s.

Wheat Ridge has historically had lower educational attainment than its neighbors as measured by the proportion of college graduates in its population aged 25 and older. But between 2015 and 2022, Wheat Ridge increased its rate of bachelor’s degree attainment by 10.4 percentage points compared to only a 7.5 point increase in Jefferson County. Educational attainment and incomes are correlated, and this may help explain why incomes began to rise in a noticeable way during the late 2010s. This was especially true for family households—per the Census Bureau, families must include at least two related people–in which median income increased by over 50%.

Column chart showing the increase in bachelor's degree attainment from 2015 to 2022 in Wheat Ridge (31.5% to 41.9%) and Jefferson County (41.6% to 49.1%), with percentage change noted. (Source: American Community Survey Five-Year Estimates)A line graph displaying the median income for households and families from 2013 to 2022, showing a general upward trend with specific values at notable points. (Source: American Community Survey Five-Year Estimates)

Interesting things about our housing market…

Wheat Ridge housing stock is dominated by mid-20th Century houses, and just over 50% are owned versus rented.

  • The homeownership rate has been steady for decades at just over 50%.
  • The rate of new house construction has slowed over time.

Wheat Ridge has had a fairly steady rate of homeownership since 1990. The growth in new, single-unit detached housing units for the ownership market slowed through 2010, but increased somewhat in the following decade. The majority of the city’s single-unit houses pre-date the city’s incorporation, and fewer than 20 new single-unit detached houses have been built annually since 1990. During the 2010s and 2020s, the production of attached townhomes outpaced that of detached houses. Wheat Ridge added 438 new townhomes and 222 detached houses from 2010 to 2023.

Table 2: Homeownership Rate 1990-2020 (Source: U.S. Census)









Column chart showing the number of single-unit detached houses by construction era in the city of Wheat Ridge, with eras ranging from pre-1950 to 2010 or later, and house counts with the highest count of 4,990 from 1950-1969 and the lowest count of 222 from 2010 or later. (Source: City of Wheat Ridge)

Home values have risen in the past decade, causing serious affordability concerns for buyers.

  • In the past decade, Wheat Ridge home prices rose to new heights.
  • New buyers will likely need household incomes of $150,000 and above to afford a house in Wheat Ridge.

As the Denver regional economy and housing demand strengthened through the 2010s and beyond, the effects were felt in Wheat Ridge home prices. Wheat Ridge’s historic affordability eroded as prices rose and, by 2020, it was difficult to find a house for much less than $500,000. The incomes necessary to purchase a home in Wheat Ridge also rose with prices; in the early 2020s, few buyers will have household incomes below $150,000.Column chart showing the median single-unit home sale price increase in the 80033 zip code for 2014 at $285,000, 2019 at $449,500, and 2023 at $617,000. (Source: Black Knight via Policy Map)Graph comparing income needed for median-valued owner-occupied unit and median owner income from 2013 to 2022, showing increasing financial requirements over time. (Source: American Community Survey Five-Year Estimates)

After nearly four decades without rental development, new units have come online in large numbers.

  • Wheat Ridge has a large supply of rental units that were built before 1980.
  • Almost no new rental units came online until the 2020s, when about 1,000 units were added to the housing supply.

Wheat Ridge historically has been a city with a large proportion of rental units, many of them dating to the middle of the last century. Nearly half of all Wheat Ridge households are renters. However, from 1980 to 2019, no new market-rate rental units were added to the city’s housing supply. (A limited number of subsidized affordable units were built during that time.) Things changed during the 2010s as Denver area rental demand grew, and Wheat Ridge added new rental projects. Planning work, regulatory changes, and redevelopment incentives paved the way for new projects around the intersection of Wadsworth and 38th Avenue, at Clear Creek Crossing, and near the Ward Station. As of early 2024, nearly 1,000 new market-rate rental units have been added since 2020, with more on the way at Clear Creek Crossing.

For many renters, incomes have not quite kept up with rising rents.

  • Historically, Wheat Ridge is an affordable rental market.
  • Rising rents demand higher incomes than those of many Wheat Ridge renter households.

Wheat Ridge historically has been among the more affordable rental locations in the Denver area, and specifically on the west side of the region. Subsidized housing (both in directly subsidized units and through the use of housing vouchers) and a large supply of older rental units, which tend to have lower rents than newer units, have contributed to these lower prices. Average and median rents have risen in Wheat Ridge as regional rental demand and overall real estate values have increased. Renter incomes, however, have increased more slowly than rents in recent years. Depending on the data source, an income of about $60,000 is required to afford the average unit in Wheat Ridge, but the median renter household income was about $50,000 as of 2022, with half of renter households having incomes below that figure.

Table 3: Current Wheat Ridge Market Snapshot, Q1 2024 of 80033 ZIP Code (Source: CoStar)


Multifamily Units


Vacancy Rate


Average Rent Per Unit


Income Required for Average Rent

Line graph showing the income needed to afford the median gross rent, with data showing increasing financial requirements over time. (Source: American Community Survey Five-Year Estimates)

Interesting things about our corridors…

Major street corridors and gateways in Wheat Ridge are generally auto-oriented and are uninviting.

  • Street corridors currently focus on the automobile and do little to make pedestrians and bicyclists comfortable.
  • Corridors have been an important topic in Wheat Ridge and have been the focus of several planning and improvement initiatives.
  • Features that make corridors feel safe and friendly to pedestrians and cyclists (e.g. buffers, trees, etc.) are lacking.

A 2024 urban design assessment (see map and legend to the right) of the major corridors completed by czb demonstrated that many of them lack the physical and aesthetic attributes that make a major city street feel safe and inviting. The visual assessment considered several urban design qualities that contribute to making a place feel special, such as enclosure, frontage, human scale, and streetscape. Most corridors rated as “Fair,” the second lowest ranking, on the assessment scale. Many of the design shortcomings on these corridors stem from being built with a focus on the automobile with little consideration to the needs of other users such as pedestrians and bicyclists. Poor interfaces and frontages – the connectivity between the public and private realms – as well as the lack of street trees and the prevalence of expansive front yard parking lots contribute to the poor sense of place. Currently, there are several city projects underway to improve Wheat Ridge’s corridors. Wadsworth Boulevard is undergoing reconstruction, and city staff are designing future improvements to W 38th Avenue between Kipling and Youngfield. In November 2023, Wheat Ridge voters passed ballot measure 2J - a .5 cent sales tax extension which will fund corridor, sidewalk, and drainage improvements throughout Wheat Ridge.A map showcasing the results from an urban design assessment of key corridors categorized in a legend with colors such as excellent (green), very good (light green), good (blue), fair (yellow), and poor (orange) with marked improvements under construction. (Source: czbLLC)

Many vehicles drive on Wheat Ridge’s key corridors every day, which makes it challenging to make those corridors comfortable for pedestrians and bicyclists.

  • Daily traffic volumes greater than 20,000 typically require multiple travel lanes in each direction, which limits room for adequate nonmotorized user facilities.
  • Buffers need to be included between non-motorized facilities (e.g. sidewalks, bike lanes, etc.) and motorized facilities.

Traffic count data was collected from the city and the Colorado Department of Transportation for the major city corridors from 2017 to 2022. Kipling Street and Wadsworth Boulevard both carry more than 35,000 vehicles per day. Streets and roadways with volumes more than 20,000 per day typically require multiple lanes in each direction and include higher travel speeds. Sidewalks and bicycle lanes along these corridors are limited. Other corridors such as parts of W 38th Avenue and W 44th Avenue have daily volumes well under 20,000, which make them candidates to consider certain types of improved bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

Interesting things about our mobility…

Even areas that have sidewalks often aren’t comfortable places to walk.

  • Sidewalks are often too narrow and located on the curb with no buffer from automobiles, making walking uncomfortable.
  • Street trees, safe pedestrian crossings, and connectivity to adjacent buildings and land uses play an important role in creating a walkable city.

The sidewalk alone doesn’t make a city walkable. There are several factors that contribute to walkable places including the placement of the sidewalk, buffers from traffic, street trees, connections to adjacent development and other uses, and the ability to cross the street. Comfort is critical. Much of Wheat Ridge includes sidewalks but they are typically along the curb with no buffer from adjacent traffic. This is an uncomfortable feeling for most pedestrians.

Bicycle facilities are limited, and the Clear Creek Trail is difficult to access without a car.

  • Other than on the Clear Creek Trail, bicycling around Wheat Ridge feels uncomfortable and/or unsafe for most people due to the lack of bikes lanes, shared use lanes, and bike boulevards.
  • Clear Creek Trail is a tremendous asset but is difficult to access without driving and parking at a local trailhead.

The ability to safely ride a bike in Wheat Ridge is difficult. Some bicycle riders are comfortable riding in the travel lane with automobiles and will ride regardless of whether there are bike lanes. However most other riders, especially recreational riders, need dedicated bike facilities to feel comfortable. Based on map data provided by the city, Wheat Ridge has approximately 7.5 miles of on-street bike facilities. The Clear Creek Trail is a great facility for bike riders, but most users need to drive to a trail head to access the trail. Expanding the network of bicycle facilities throughout neighborhoods and providing low-stress routes will improve access to the trail, and it will also expand opportunities for residents to use a bicycle for both transportation and recreation purposes throughout Wheat Ridge

Improving pedestrian and bicycle access to and around key community assets could be an effective approach.

The 2017 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan and other recent planning initiatives have focused on how to make it easier to get around Wheat Ridge without a car. These plans recommend focusing investments around key assets. These focus areas, called Pedestrian Enhancement Areas, were identified around assets like parks, open space and trail heads, commercial centers, schools, and transit stops.A map of the city with marked trails, and other pedestrian enhancement areas. These focus areas were identified around assets like parks, open space and trail heads, commercial centers, schools, and transit stops. (Source: City of Wheat Ridge)

Interesting things about our Commercial Centers…

These commercial centers contain multiple businesses that provide goods and services to local residents and shoppers from other communities. Grocery stores often serve as the primary anchor for a center, and four of the five centers depicted on the map below include a grocery in their commercial mix. Approximately 75% of the community’s geographical area is located within one mile of these four centers. The exception is the far northwest section of the city surrounding the Wheat Ridge/Ward Road Station, where very little commercial development currently exists. None of the centers have consistent and comfortable sidewalks, crossings, and other facilities that make walking easy, as described in greater detail on the Mobility section.A map of the city with marked commercial centers and corresponding photos of five areas: Kipling Ridge, Wheat Ridge Marketplace, Applewood Village, Gold's Marketplace, and Ridge Village and Chase Plaza. (Source: City of Wheat Ridge and czbLLC)

Table 4: Type and Location of the Major Commercial Centers in Wheat Ridge

Kipling Ridge
Wheat Ridge Marketplace
Applewood Village
Gold’s Marketplace
Ridge Village and Chase Plaza
W 38th Ave & Kipling St
Wadsworth Boulevard and W 38th Ave
Youngfield Street (between W 38th Ave and W 32nd Ave)
Kipling Street and W 26th Ave
W 38th Ave & Sheridan Blvd
Sprouts grocery store, Starbucks, etc.
Safeway grocery store, pet supplies, Starbucks, etc. (with additional pad sites adjacent to the site that include McDonalds, Burger King, Boston Marketplace, etc.)
King Soopers grocery store, Hobby Lobby, Applejack Wine and Spirits, restaurants, strip commercial, etc.
Deli, coffee shop, brew pub, restaurants, etc. (a gas station is located adjacent to the site)
King Soopers grocery store, strip commercial, gas station, liquor store, restaurants, etc.
Site Information
+/- 5 acres
+/- 35,000 square feet
+/- 15 acres (including pad sites)
+/- 100,000 square feet (including pad sites)
+/1 35 acres
+/-300,000 square feet (multiple buildings)
+/-4 acres
+/- 60,000 square feet
+/- 7 acres
+/-105,000 square feet
Share What we know about Wheat Ridge on Facebook Share What we know about Wheat Ridge on Twitter Share What we know about Wheat Ridge on Linkedin Email What we know about Wheat Ridge link
<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing: en-US.projects.blog_posts.show.load_comment_text">Load Comment Text</span>