Mayor Hancock taps DIA real estate leader to head city planning department

Laura Aldrete will head Denver Community Planning and Development, which guides how the city looks, feels and works.

1775 Federal Blvd. under construction, June 25, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

1775 Federal Blvd. under construction, June 25, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photos

Laura Aldrete will take the helm of Denver’s planning department, a spokesman for Mayor Michael Hancock’s office confirmed Monday.

Aldrete will make the move from Denver International Airport, where she is senior vice president of the airport’s real estate development arm, to Denver Community Planning and Development.

“I’m thankful to Mayor Hancock for this appointment and look forward to working with our community to implement their vision for our city’s present and future,” Aldrete said in a prepared statement released by the mayor’s office.

Aldrete did not return a request for comment Monday.

Denver's new planning director Laura Aldrete. (Courtesy, City and County of Denver)

Denver's new planning director Laura Aldrete. (Courtesy, City and County of Denver)

Prior to her time at DIA — about three years — Aldrete was the principal planner at Matrix Design Group and a senior planner at PB Placemaking, which was absorbed by WSP, a firm that has one several city contracts over the years.

As the mayor’s office project manager for Stapleton, she was instrumental in the development of the 4,700-acre planned neighborhood.

In the early 2000s, Aldrete was a higher up at the Denver Urban Renewal Authority where she led the quasi-governmental organization’s housing department. She was responsible for doling out loans with federal affordable housing funds to Denverites for home improvements.

“I think Denver is very fortunate to have her as our planning director,” said Tracy Huggins, the executive director of DURA who worked with Aldrete back then. “Laura cares deeply about the city. Her planning background is very deep.”

Aldrete also sat on the Denver Planning Board from 2005 to 2012. The volunteer board decides whether potential developments meet the criteria to move forward before advancing recommendations to the Denver City Council.

Aldrete will be Denver’s first permanent planning director in more than a year. She will replace Evelyn Baker, who was one of two interim directors since Brad Buchanan left the post. She will be the city’s first Latinx city planning chief.

Aldrete is a mayoral appointee.

This story is developing and will be updated.

This story was updated to correct the name of the interim director being replaced, which is Evelyn Baker. Jill Jennings Golich was the previous interim director.

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