The Churchill neighborhood’s many parks and sense of community outweigh the lack of independent grocery stores and increases in traffic say residents.
Yuricza Carreon, who moved to the Churchill neighborhood from Mexico six years ago, said that the many parks and community spaces are great for her children Jenny, 4 and Leonardo, 1. She and her sister Rosi Carreon will, if the weather permits, walk around the Churchill High School track with their children and catch up. “It’s so beautiful out here and people are very friendly,” said Rosi Carreon. “Our neighbors will always say hello when we pass by.”
Yuricza Carreon touted the relative proximity of everything to her house. “All the shops are within walking distance and it’s just so easy to get around,” said Carreon. “Of course, I almost always drive anyway, but I could walk and that’s what counts.”
For Ian Bray, a Churchill native who recently moved back to the neighborhood after 20 years, the neighborhood is not the same as it used to be. According to Bray, there is much more traffic and the closest grocery stores are now on W 11th Av. “I would love to see a good community market on Baily Hill,” Bray said. However, a positive to all the new people living in the area is the increase in diversity. “With all the gentrification that has happened in the neighborhoods closer in, many people have been pushed farther out and a lot have ended up in Churchill – but it still has a neighborhood feel,” Bray said.
As the majority of family-owned shops have shuttered their doors in response to the emergence of big box retailers like Fred Myers and Walmart, the few that remain have special importance to the residents of Churchill. Aqua Serene, CD World and Nachos on West 11th Av are some of the few that remain.
The sense of community, described by the Carreon sisters and Bray, is also helped, in part, by the many churches – over half a dozen on 18th Av alone. In fact, several are warming centers. When the temperature falls below 30 degrees, they will open their doors to provide shelter to the homeless.