Denver City Council has approved a rezoning request for a block of land in the RiNo Art District in Five Points, opening the way for developers to build some 1,000 housing units and commercial spaces on roughly 13 acres, or nearly 10 football fields.
Council voted 12-1 to approve the rezoning Monday. Councilmember Candi CdeBaca voted against it.
The changes affect four parcels between where Broadway turns into Brighton Boulevard and the South Platte River. They include 2650 Arkins Ct., 3205 Denargo St., 3280 Denargo St. and 2700 Wewatta Way, in an area surrounded by apartment complexes and industrial spaces.
The space, currently fenced off and vacant, was zoned for residential and commercial building, with a maximum height of 75 feet and even 220 feet in some parcels.
The zoning approved Monday would still allow mixed-use buildings, but increase maximum heights to 250 feet at 2650 Arkins Ct. and allow some buildings among the four parcels to rise up to 110, 150 and 200 feet, with the lower heights closer to the river and the taller heights allowed more in the center of the development.
The developers, locally-based Formativ and Chicago-based Golub & Co., want to build between 1,000 to 1,400 housing units, and include between 1.25 million to 1.5 million square feet of commercial space. The parcels are owned by JV Denargo LLC.
CdeBaca, who represents the land where the rezoning was approved, said there are elements of the project that would be great if they happened. But approving the zoning would set the bar low in an area she said the council has been told needs more affordable housing.
“The need is so much greater there that I don’t think that this meets the criteria of advancing the public welfare of this area,”CdeBaca said.
More than 20 people spoke during a public hearing on the project, with a majority supporting the rezoning request. The rezoning was recommended by the city’s planning department, which cited among its reasons to recommend approval its consistency with larger plans for the city and for the area.
Council also approved a development agreement between the city and the landowners.
The agreement — passed by the same 12-1 tally — includes a “voluntary” commitment from developers to provide affordable housing, ensuring 15 percent of all units built are affordable housing. While the agreement includes the word “voluntary,” developers will be required to stick to the plan. At least one of the parcels will be developed specifically as an affordable housing project under the terms of this agreement, according to senior city planner Scott Robinson. This project will include at least 40 affordable housing units and supportive housing for young adults.
“Those youth do live in this neighborhood,” Councilmember Robin Kniech said, citing providing housing for younger people as one of the reasons she supported the rezoning.
The site sits at a confluence of new and old Denver.
The biggest plot is directly across from the Crossroads Shelter for men experiencing homelessness, which has been there since the 1990s. Last fall, the city cleared a large homeless encampment that had sprung up around the site’s fenced-off perimeter. It’s surrounded by several relatively new apartment complexes, including luxury apartments bearing the Denargo Market name. The area was once home to this market, which was the King Soopers of its day when it opened in 1939. A four-alarm fire destroyed it in 1971, according to the Denver Library.
Alex Staples, 27, has lived in a nearby apartment building since March. He would like to see some green space at the Arkins Court site, which is basically what the plot now has behind some fencing, albeit not quite as manicured as he envisions.
“I would love to see a little more grass,” Staples said.