Originally appeared in the Fort Collins Forum
I am a progressive who lives on the south side of town. To my liberal friends on the north side, I might as well be living in Tierra del Fuego. The very mention of the south side – the Republican end of town – sets their eyes rolling back in their heads while visions of beige cookie cutter houses on identical cul-de-sacs and an asphalt sea of national chain store parking lots dance in their heads. True, the post-WWII development pattern, which generally begins on the south side of Prospect Road (SoPro), does lead to less through-streets and more uniformity. And yes, Fort Collins landmarks like Old Town, CSU and (most of) the Poudre River are in the older part of town. Until I moved here, I thought I wanted to live on the northside too, but now I’m convinced this is the best part of town to raise a family.
Here then, in no particular order, are the top ten reasons I love living in SoPro.
1) Health food. We have most of the natural foods markets down here. I know that’s hard to believe, and you do have the venerable Food Coop downtown. But we have Wild Oats, Sunflower Market, the pricey but gorgeous Whole Foods (food porn!), and my mainstay, the unpretentious, all-organic produce, low-priced Vitamin Cottage. Since organics have gone mainstream, even mainstream supermarkets now carry them, such as King Soopers and Safeway…and we also have most of those markets here in SoPro.
2) Movies. With the closing of Campus West, every single movie theater in town is in SoPro, including the drive-in. Once the new indie/art film house opens on Mountain Avenue (welcome!), SoPro will have every movie theater…except one.
3) Parks. We have the best parks. Yes, you north-enders have Martinez Farm and City Park, but we have Rolland Moore, Edora and Fossil Creek Regional Parks. And now the Southwest Regional Park is under construction.
4) Dog parks. We have both dog parks, the one at the west end of Horsetooth and the one I go to at Fossil Creek. There’s also the unofficial dog park at the old Fort Collins High School. For pooches, SoPro rocks.
5) The Environmental Learning Center. You could lump this one in with parks, but it really is a different animal. One of Fort Collins’ treasures, with regular environmental classes, the Raptor Center and miles of trails along the river, the ELC entrance is off East Drake Road.
6) Bagels. I grew up in Brooklyn, so I know something about bagels. We ate bagels before eating bagels was cool, and in my humble opinion the best bagels in Fort Collins are Gib’s NY Bagels. There are three Gibs outlets in town, and all three are located in SoPro, including one within walking distance of my home.
7) Medical care. If you twist your knee hiking, get bit at the dog park or choke on a bagel, be glad you live in SoPro. Not only is Poudre Valley Hospital and PVH’s Harmony campus here, but so are most of the other medical professionals.
8) Schools. The north end has Poudre High and Centennial, but we have Fort Collins High, Rocky Mountain High, and Colorado’s greenest high school, Fossil Ridge. We have all the new elementary schools, while the north end struggles with declining enrollment in aging schools. We also have every single charter school in town, including Pioneer, Liberty Common, Ridgeview and the brand new T.R. Paul Academy of Arts and Sciences. If you’re feeling a little jealous up north, I’ll be glad to trade you Ridgeview and its Maximum Leader for, say, a future draft pick…
9) The Main Post Office. This one might be a little tough for north-enders to swallow, but the newer post office on Boardwalk IS the main post office. That old building you got with the IRS on the upper floor and the FBI hiding in the basement? That USED TO BE the main post office. Now it’s only the annex. Sorry.
10) Location, location, location. We are closer to Boulder, Denver, and the rest of the world. You’re closer to Laramie, Wyoming.
I rest my case.