Tiny-home villages take a huge step as city of Denver grants approval

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo
An early (and already outdated) rendering for Beloved Community Village. The current design includes 11 of the smaller structures and only one of the circular structures. (Radian Inc)

An early (and already outdated) rendering for Beloved Community Village. The current design includes 11 of the smaller structures and only one of the circular structures. (Radian Inc)

The organizers of a proposed village of tiny homes in River North just won a significant victory: The city of Denver has approved the concept of the temporary village, meant for people experiencing homelessness.

It was unclear until now whether the Beloved Community Village project near 38th and Walnut would be allowed under Denver’s zoning laws, as nothing quite like it has been done under city law.

The city’s zoning administrator, Tina Axelrad, now has decided that “the proposed temporary homeless housing use is consistent with the overall purpose and intent of the Denver Zoning Code, including to promote ‘diverse and affordable housing options,'” according to Andrea Burns, spokeswoman for Community Planning and Development.

The village could be built and open by mid-April.

That also opens the door, in concept, for future tiny-home projects. The nonprofit behind the project, Colorado Village Collaborative, hopes to start more in the future.

The zoning department specifically determined that “temporary homeless housing” is an appropriate use in C-MX-8 zones, or commercial mixed-use zones that allow buildings up to 8 floors.

“So, in the future, other applicants could apply for a Temporary Homeless Housing use if they were located in the C-MX-8 zone district and could meet the zoning requirements,” Burns wrote.

“As this is a pilot project, the limitations and conditions on this project would likely be evaluated and considered when looking at any future, similar applications.”

However, the RiNo project still must get approval under the building and fire codes.

The village will be allowed to operate for 180 days and can house up to 20 adults under the conditions of the zoning permit issued Thursday, though the organizers have said it will only host 14 people.

It will operate largely off-grid, using solar power, water tanks and solar power, according to its organizers. The project will be at 3733 Walnut Street, which eventually will become a transit-oriented development by Urban Land Conservancy.

“This marks a historic victory in the struggle for creative, dignified solutions to Denver’s interconnected economic, housing, and homelessness crises,” the organizers of the project said in a news release.

“The approval arrived on the eve of the National Day of Action for Housing and five days before three homeless people stand trial for citation’s under Denver’s Unauthorized Camping Ban. The project — Beloved Community Village — is a response to these compound issues.”