As expected, the West Highland Neighborhood Association overwhelmingly voted on Tuesday night to recommend downzoning three parcels where Denver-based RedPeak Properties is pursuing developing three, five-story buildings.
The 44-1 vote came hours after City Councilwoman Susan Shepherd released a letter to Mike Zoellner, president of RedPeak, in which she asked him to “strongly consider” lowering the height and density of the proposed buildings, “which I believe might mean 3 stories.” An official from RedPeak declined to immediately respond, but may do so as early as Wednesday.
If the Denver City Council decides to pursue downzoning the parcels north of West 32nd Avenue on Lowell Boulevard, Moncrieff Place and Meade Street, where RedPeak wants to build about 150 luxury apartment units, the WHNA’s motion provides recommendations for the three parcels that call for buildings of two stories or less. These were the same zoning recommendations the WHNA made in 2009 and 2010. The City Council in June 2010 approved the new zoning of U-MS-5 that allows five-story buildings, against the wishes of the neighborhood group.
In addition, the motion calls for downzoning most of West 32nd Avenue from Julian to Meade Streets to only allow two-story buildings. During the rezoning, a height limit was changed to allow three-story buildings along that stretch. One person in the audience questioned whether that might dilute the zoning changes sought for the other three parcels. But Steve Kite, zoning chair for the WHNA, said when the Chipotle building or the Mead Street Station building are being scraped, it would be too late to do something about it. He noted that many people were unaware of the U-MS-5 zoning until after the fact. Kite said he knows of no plans to build taller buildings along 32nd at this time, but he said a number of the buildings would provide tempting targets to developers in the future.
By a much narrower vote, the WHNA also passed a resolution to support a new overlay zone district limiting the height of new construction to 35 feet between approximately Irving and and Perry streets and West 30th and West 33rd Avenues.
“With an overlay district, the height limit of 35 feet will apply to all parcels of land, regardless of their zoning, present or future, and will help preserve the unique character of this Historic Neighborhood,” according to the resolution spearheaded by WHNA member Marie Benedix.
Following the meeting, Benedix said that there are at least three highly visible historic commercial stretches in Denver that most people know by name and treasure:
- South Pearl Street.
- South Gaylord Street.
- Highlands Square at Lowell Boulevard and West 32nd Avenue.
The historic charm has apparently been preserved under the new zoning along South Pearl and Gaylord, while the Highlands Square stretch is “in danger of being scraped,” she said. “It would be a terrible legacy for the City Council and the Mayor,” if that happened.
Contact John Rebchook at JRCHOOK@gmail.com