Denver approves five-story youth homeless center in Overland, despite opposition

The proposal’s height drew complaints from a neighborhood association and a developer.
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LGBTQ-focused case manager, Calvin Knutzen, supervises breakfast on Christmas Day. Urban Peak, a shelter for Denver’s homeless youth, Dec. 25, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) homeless; urban peak; denver; denverite; colorado; kevinjbeaty;

Urban Peak youth homeless shelter, Nov. 2, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The nonprofit Urban Peak is set to replace its one-story youth homeless shelter with a five-story mixed-use building in southwest Denver.

The planned new building will include 40 shelter beds, several dorm-style units and up to 60 units of permanent, supportive housing. A rezoning for the project was unanimously approved by the Denver City Council on Monday.

The proposal's height drew complaints from a neighborhood association and a developer.

"This rezoning is an important step for Urban Peak to rebuild the shelter into a more comprehensive center for homeless youth," said Christina Carlson, the group's new CEO.

The project would allow the nonprofit to bring together its shelter, its offices and services that are currently spread across the city. The shelter would be on the first floor.

LCP Development, the developer of condos and retail on a nearby property, opposed the rezoning, saying that it was too tall for the neighborhood. It should instead be three stories under the current expectations for the area, said representative Beau Breck.

The Platt Park People's Association made a similar complaint.

"It just sets a precedent for development in that area, high-density development, that Platt Park residents don't want," said Michael Berman, a neighborhood resident, stressing that he still supported Urban Peak.

A girls' dorm at the Urban Peak youth homeless shelter in Overland, Nov. 2, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

But supporters of the project argued that it's close to two rail stations and to bus lines, making it prime for density, and Councilwoman At-large Robin Kniech said that nearby lots could go as high as eight floors.

"It's pretty clear that it's anticipated that density in the form of height will occur along Santa Fe," said Chad Holtzinger, president of Shopworks Architecture.

The Overland Park Neighborhood Association supported the change. The project is in Overland, but it's closer to Platt Park's residential areas.

Speakers at the public hearing on Monday universally praised the nonprofit. A stay at Urban Peak "was the beginning of my new life," said David Jennings, the nonprofit's secretary.

"The greatest gift that we can give to our youth .. is that we're giving them a place to be off the streets," said Clayton Gonzales, director of programing for Urban Peak.

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