"My life has done a complete 180 since then," she said. "I worked my ass off to get there."
Councilwoman Kendra Black wants Denver to use much more of its marijuana money to get housing built, and she's not alone.
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"It's not just construction, it's also fighting for what's right at the same time and doing it in a peaceful manner."
Some of the businesses along the strip are "barely hanging on," the district's executive committee wrote in a letter last week.
Once, before the construction cranes and paving crews, Brighton Boulevard was a normal road. Those days are soon to return.
It would be a major renovation of sidewalks, signage and other amenities along East Colfax Avenue. The overall plan for the strip is much bigger.
"For the residents, they need to get to work. We need to make sure buses and emergency services can get in and out of the neighborhood."
The heart of the $9 million project is the rebuilding of Shoemaker Plaza, an open space near REI that includes concrete steps down into the river.
There's a moratorium in place on this building type, and City Council might extend it until June 2018 as planners work out changes to development rules.
One of the most important hubs in Denver's bike and pedestrian network has been completely messed up for two years. It's getting better already.
Only 12 percent of counties in the whole country had a construction peak in 2015, not 2005 or 2000.
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Globeville Landing Park has been replaced by fenced-off mounds of dirt, dotted at times by workers wearing white suits and respirators.
There's a lot of construction between now and all those new sidewalks, curbs and gutters, cycle tracks, landscaping and street lighting coming to Brighton.
Last week, we learned that new home construction in the U.S. was at a nine-year high.