Development Developments- From the President- April 2015

From the President

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Larry Ambrose

Development Developments

We can’t say that neighborhood issues are not taking the spotlight during the past couple of months. Seems like the rest of Denver is catching up to what many in INC have noticed for several years. There has been a lot of “buzz” recently about people’s reaction to development in Denver. Our own Zoning and Planning Committee Co-Chair, Greg Kerwin, in an opinion editorial in the Denver Post entitled, It’s time to take our city back, Denver. This article received 112 comments on line and was followed the next week by several most supportive letters to the editor. Not surprisingly, Greg also received a large number of letters and email directly in support of his theme that development has become out of control and that we don’t need to destroy the things that make Denver a wonderful place to live.

"BRINGING BACK DENVER CONDO MARKET" Denver Post 2/282015In the Post’s Perspective section on April 5, was an opinion editorial by Denver architect, Jeffrey Sheppard, Denver is a great city, so why the bad buildings? Mr. Sheppard apparently struck a chord with oh so many having received more than 200 personal emails in support of his analysis. Citing lack of good design and innovation, he says, “downtown Denver has become increasingly densified with block after block of repetitive five-story, stick-framed rental apartments stacked on top of (or connected to) massive concrete parking structures, banality has begun to quietly replace the well-designed historic buildings that once populated our urban core. Meaningless, uninspiring structures that feature mere surface variation rather than genuine innovation seem to be the zeitgeist of the day.”

And if you are not entertained enough by the shocking new developments in your own neighborhood, a fellow name of Brad Evans launched a campaign against “Fugly” new buildings in Denver with a wonderful new facebook page consistent with Mr. Sheppard’s take on things, entitled, Denver FUGLY.

Denver FUGLY

from Denver FUGLY

A marvelous freelance writer named Nate Ragolia, wrote a profound piece on entitled Denver’s Missed Opportunity. The Queen City of the West grows its body while neglecting its heart. Mr. Ragolia, a resident of Capitol Hill says, “If Denver wants to be a 21st Century city— if Denver wants to be the Queen City of the West and embrace its roots of reinvention —it will not succeed through attracting big businesses, building luxury apartments, and catering to johnnies-come-lately. Those businesses will shut their doors eventually, those luxury apartments will age, and those newcomers will take their investment capital somewhere else. No, to become a 21st Century city, Denver has to be bold enough to reinvent what American cities are like. And it means finding a middle ground between Europe’s best examples and innovative thinking about a future that isn’t here yet.”

Ever the optimist, Joel Noble, INC Transportation Committee Co-Chair, countered with his own take on why development is a good thing for Denver and is nothing new. In a guest commentary:

Play a Part in Shaping Your City, Joel maintains that residents of Denver help set the vision for their part of the city and that all land-use regulation changes proposed in Denver must be consistent with the community-driven small area plans and the Comprehensive Plan.

Play a Part in Shaping Your City

On the other hand, my RNO, Sloan’s Lake Neighborhood Association and a number of individuals in the West Colfax and Sloan’s Lake area filed a suit requesting judicial review of the unanimous approval of the rezoning of a block on 17th Avenue right on Sloan’s Lake Park for a 12 story luxury condominium. Having been part of the planning process back in 2006, they contend that the small area plan, the West Colfax Plan, clearly called for the tallest buildings and greatest density to be towards Colfax Avenue not the Park.

Ironically and predictably the City of Denver has filed a Motion to Dismiss the action saying

  1. Registered Neighborhood Organizations do not have standing (not allowed) to take an issue to court: The City Attorney says, RNOs are only recognized by the City to receive information about what’s going on (but, presumably, not allowed to do anything about if they don’t like it) and
  2. the Denver Comprehensive Plan and supplementary small area plans which become part of it by ordinance “are advisory only” and in the end, City Council and the Planning Board can chose to ignore what they say.

Denver is at the center of a development storm. We will see what is left for our neighborhoods when the turbulence is over. Perhaps reason can play a role once again.pres let sig

Larry Ambrose

Denver INC President


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