- Councilwoman Susan Shepherd addresses parking at apartment tower.
- Board made right decision, because of its narrow scope.
- She would like to see West 35th Avenue turned into a “bicycle boulevard.”
Councilwoman Susan Shepherd “is very concerned” that the former Eden Manor high-rise apartment building in West Highland doesn’t have enough parking.
However, she said the Denver Board of Adjustments for Zoning made the correct decision last month when it ruled that it did not need more parking, despite its purchase earlier this year by a private developer who plans to phase in market-rate apartments to the 12-story building at West 32nd Avenue and Julian Street.
Shepherd said the board looks at a “very narrow” set of facts in determining whether the use had changed enough that it would require more parking spaces.
The West Highland Neighborhood Association had filed an appeal with the board, unsuccessfully arguing that since being built in 1962 it had primarily served senior citizens, many of whom did not drive, while as a market-rate building it did not have enough parking spaces for the 114-unit building.
“I do think it is under-parked,” Shepherd said. “But I don’t have any leverage,” to require the developer, Mark Nealon, to add more parking spaces.
The building has an estimated 57 parking spaces, according to Steve Kite of the WHNA.
Shepherd said she thinks the lack of parking spaces at the building, renamed as Julian32 at Highlands Square, would pose a bigger problem than if RedPeak ends up developing three nearby parcels into luxury apartment buildings.
RedPeak would need to provide one parking space per unit under the current zoning code for proposed buildings north of West 32nd Avenue on Lowell Boulevard, Meade Street and West Moncrieff Place.
“I don’t know, maybe we need to look at a new ordinance requiring more parking for buildings like Eden Manor, when they are sold,” Shepherd said.
“This could be a much bigger issue than this single building,” she said. “I would like to know how many building citywide would be effected.”
Shepherd said her biggest priority on the council is to improve the “bikeability” and “walkability,” not only in District 1 that she represents, but the entire city.
And she said that when she met with Nealon earlier this summer, after learning he had bought the building, he was sympathetic to her passion to encourage “multi-modal” transportation alternatives beyond cars.
“He owns a number of buildings besides this one, and he said that he does things like include bike racks and bike storage in his buildings,” she said.
She said maybe he could designate a space for a car-share at his West Highland building to encourage renters to use alternative modes of transportation. Nealon has not yet returned calls from InsideRealEstateNews.com.
Meanwhile, Shepherd said that she is looking into turning West 35th Avenue into a “bike boulevard,” which could help traffic in the area and the environment by encouraging more commuting by bikes.
A bike boulevard, she said, is a specific way of making streets more accommodating and safer for bicyclists, while still allowing cars on them. Fifteenth Street in downtown is an example of a bike boulevard.
“Thirty fifth is a good candidate because it doesn’t have a lot of car traffic on it,” Shepherd said. “I think the bike boulevard would go at least from Sheridan to Federal.”
It could be a “year or two,” before 35th is transformed into a bike boulevard, she said.
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