If there is one emerging high growth city that is handlinggrowth relatively well, it's Denver. The Mile High City has anadvantage over Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Phoenix -- namely itssmaller population, currently about 2.5 million. Suburban expansion(I didn't use sprawl) hasn't gotten totally out of hand. RockyMountain environmental consciousness probably also has helped.

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Twenty years ago, Denver's downtown was going the way ofdowntown cores in Atlanta and Dallas -- ready to sink fast.Suburban office nodes in expanding suburbs had become favoredbusiness centers. Traffic was becoming a problem into downtown andlocal commutes were easier. Nobody lived downtown and there wasn'tmuch to do anyway, except maybe have a cocktail at the bar in theBrown Palace after work.

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But in 1986 city leaders put together a plan that would helpdowntown survive and eventually prosper. That led to the LoDowarehouse district getting turned into a destination entertainmentand restaurant neighborhood with lofts and galleries buttressed bya new stadium for the Broncos and ballfield for the Rockies. Moreimportantly the city and state decided to make downtown the hub ofa new light rail system with spokes to key suburban centers. Theyturned a prime shopping avenue -- 16th Street -- into a pedestrianmall with a free shuttle, connecting to light rail. Now they areinstituting a downtown shuttle circulator to extend the service,facilitating movement of commuters from an expanding Union Stationto their offices. Many suburban developers, meanwhile, haveswitched from greenfield subdivision projects to transit orienteddevelopment around light rail stations.

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Taking forward thinking one step farther, the state has mandatedthat energy companies produce at least 20% of their electricityfrom alternative energy sources like windpower and a big push is onfor sustainable, green LEED development.

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Denver looks like it will be able to accommodate a populationincrease to 4.5 million in 30 years, thanks to foresight and goodplanning. The region realized well before the reality of $4 gasthat car dependency and unrestrained growth created an untenablefuture.

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Jonathan D. Miller

A marketing communication strategist who turned to real estate analysis, Jonathan D. Miller is a foremost interpreter of 21st citistate futures – cities and suburbs alike – seen through the lens of lifestyles and market realities. For more than 20 years (1992-2013), Miller authored Emerging Trends in Real Estate, the leading commercial real estate industry outlook report, published annually by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Land Institute (ULI). He has lectures frequently on trends in real estate, including the future of America's major 24-hour urban centers and sprawling suburbs. He also has been author of ULI’s annual forecasts on infrastructure and its What’s Next? series of forecasts. On a weekly basis, he writes the Trendczar blog for GlobeStreet.com, the real estate news website. Outside his published forecasting work, Miller is a prominent communications/institutional investor-marketing strategist and partner in Miller Ryan LLC, helping corporate clients develop and execute branding and communications programs. He led the re-branding of GMAC Commercial Mortgage to Capmark Financial Group Inc. and he was part of the management team that helped build Equitable Real Estate Investment Management, Inc. (subsequently Lend Lease Real Estate Investments, Inc.) into the leading real estate advisor to pension funds and other real institutional investors. He joined the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the U.S. in 1981, moving to Equitable Real Estate in 1984 as head of Corporate/Marketing Communications. In the 1980's he managed relations for several of the country's most prominent real estate developments including New York's Trump Tower and the Equitable Center. Earlier in his career, Miller was a reporter for Gannett Newspapers. He is a member of the Citistates Group and a board member of NYC Outward Bound Schools and the Center for Employment Opportunities.