Updates with City Council denying request.
Denver’s City Council has voted unanimously to deny a property owner’s request for a zoning change he said would have helped him build more housing within reach of low-income families in the Cole neighborhood.
City planning staff had recommended the denial of the rezoning to allow a four-unit rental property at the corner of 36th Avenue and Race Street to be replaced with attached rowhouses that would have six homes. According to staff analysis, the rowhouses would be out of place in the area because it is dominated by single family homes and would allow for significantly more growth than city plans envision in the neighborhood.
The 13-0 decision on Dec. 14 by City Council followed a recommendation for denial from the Planning Board in October. The board members who voted to deny the rezoning expressed regret that Cole doesn’t have its own neighborhood plan to offer guidance in such cases, noted the neighborhood already has a mix of single and multi-family housing and praised the owner, Tim Dupuis, for wanting to build more affordable housing. Nonetheless, the six board members said they had to agree with the staff analysis of current city plans.
Joel Noble, who chairs the Planning Board and joined the majority in denying the rezoning, said the criteria the staff considered was likely to change as the city continues a discussion of how zoning can encourage the kind of density that promotes affordability.
Dupuis’ request had the support of the Cole neighborhood association. The Planning Board received a half dozen letters in support of the proposal and only one in opposition. By the time the request reached City Council, several neighbors had written in opposition, with some questioning how Dupuis’s pledge to build affordable housing would be enforced.
Dupuis and his wife have for 15 years owned the four two-bedroom apartments in a low-slung brick building at 36th and Race that was built in 1961. Dupuis said his rents average less than $1,280. The online real estate company Apartment List calculated the median rent for a Denver two-bedroom at $1,551 in November.
Older buildings tend to have fewer amenities and command cheaper rents.