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- RedPeak no longer defendant.
- Building permits pulled.
- Property rights vs wishes of neighbors at issue
RedPeak Properties apparently is no longer a party to the lawsuit filed by West Highland neighbors seeking to overturn zoning that allows five-story luxury apartment buildings in the heart of the trendy neighborhood.
According to the docket for the case in Denver District Court, Judge Robert L. McGahey Jr. has agreed to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims against defendant Lowell Residential LLC (RedPeak) without prejudice.
“All claims asserted by Plaintiffs against Defendant are dismissed without prejudice, each party to bear his, her or its own fees and costs,” according to the motion filed on behalf of the RedPeak entity.
The motion goes on to say that RedPeak entity will be “bound by any final judgement entered in this action on the claims asserted against it by Plaintiffs as they currently exist, to the same extent as if it were a party to this action.”
However, the motion says RedPeak shall “not be bound by any judgement entered on any claims that may be added to the litigation or to any amended claims seeking any relief other than that which Plaintiffs currently seek.”
An attorney familiar with the case, but not involved with it, said the motion means that RedPeak must abide by any legal decision and RedPeak could be added as a defendant at a future date.
“I’m not sure what is accomplishes,” he said. Another observer, however, said it may save RedPeak a great deal in legal fees by not being a defendant in the lawsuit.
RedPeak has the three parcels under contract from an investment group headed by Tom Wootten. Because RedPeak does not own the land, it has argued that it should not be a party to the lawsuit. RedPeak officials declined to comment.
The actual decision on the motion was sealed and thus not readily available.
Last April, neighbors filed the lawsuit against RedPeak, the Denver City Council and the owners of the properties on Lowell Boulevard, Meade Street and West Moncrieff Place, just north of West 32nd Avenue, claiming that the U-MS-5 zoning that allowed the five-story buildings are an example of illegal “spot” zoning and are not in accordance with the “area of stability” designation by Blueprint Denver.
The lawsuit seeks to have the City Council reconsider the zoning on the parcels, but does not request any specific zoning designation to replace the current zoning.
It is unclear what would happen if the case goes to court, the plaintiffs win and the council re-affirms either the current zoning for the parcels or some other zoning designation not acceptable to the plaintiffs. The current zoning went into effect during the massive rezoning of all Denver properties in June 2010. The case is scheduled to go to trial at the end of May. The previous zoning allowed up to seven-story buildings on each parcel.
If the neighbors prevail, some observers worry that the decision could hurt future developments, as developers may not be able to depend on constructing what is allowed by right under the designated zoning. It could make future developments harder to finance, some fear.
However, leaders of a grassroots opposition group called No High Rises in West Highland, have said that the current zoning is so inappropriate for the neighborhood that it would not set a precedent and have a chilling effect on other proposed developments. Still, neighbors in other neighborhoods and even nearby cities, have made inquiries to the group to determine if they could use similar tactics to stop developments they do not support.
At one point, before RedPeak was in the picture and the previous zoning was in place, Denver-based Mercy Housing had hoped to build affordable apartment units on the site, but the deal collapsed when it couldn’t get financial help from the city. An official from Mercy Housing previously said if it could have gone through with its plans, it would have constructed units to the maximum allowable height and density. That is not uncommon with non-profit housing groups, which often build the maximum number of units allowed to meet the demand for affordable housing in the most cost-effective way.
Meanwhile, GE Johnson Construction has filed for three building permits for the sites at 3484 W. Moncrieff Place, 3220 Meade St. and 3241 Lowell Boulevard.
The total value of the three permits is just under $18.9 million.
“The applications are under review,” said Julius Zsako, spokesman for the Denver Community Planning and Development department.
RedPeak plans to build a five-story building on Meade Street and Lowell Boulevard and a four-story building on West Moncrieff. The Lowell permit is valued at $10 million, the Meade Street permit at $5.677 million and the Moncrieff permit at $3.196 million, Zsako said.
As part of the development of the luxury community that would include a number of green features, RedPeak intends to raze a part of the former Highland church on Lowell and incorporate another part of it into the development.
“In the event there is any demolition required, they would have to seek a permit for the demolition,” Zsako said.
He did not know how long the review process might take.
“At this point, they are reviewing the construction drawings, as submitted,” he said.
“It is not uncommon for several submittals of building permits to take place,” Zsako added. “All of the electrical and structural permits might be approved, for example, and there might be questions on the mechanical, so (the permit request) goes back to the submitter and they address any questions raised.”
Tonight, an update on the lawsuit will be one of the subjects discussed by the West Highland Neighborhood Association. The WHNA has agreed to joint the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
The meeting starts at 7 p.m.at the Highland Event Center at 2945 Julian St.
Interested in buying or selling a home in Highland or West Highland? Please check out COhomefinder.com.
Have a story idea or real estate tip? Contact John Rebchook at JRCHOOK@gmail.com. InsideRealEstateNews.com is sponsored by Universal Lending, Land Title Guarantee and 8z Real Estate. To read more articles by John Rebchook, subscribe to the Colorado Real Estate Journal.
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