Zachary Urban, who has seen the area home foreclosure crisis and mortgage-fraud problems from the trenches, hopes to translate his skills in dealing to grass-roots politics.
Zachary is running for Wheat Ridge City Council.. The election will is Tuesday, Nov. 3.
I have known Zachary for a number of years. First, I knew him when he worked for the non-profit Brothers Redevelopment in Edgewater. He tirelessly worked to help people who were facing losing their homes in foreclosure. At Brothers, he forged a reputation as being o be analytical, intelligent and realistic in his assessments. He now is the spokesman for the Colorado Division of Real Estate, headed by Erin Toll.
He found people from all walks of life facing foreclosure. Some had been scammed into getting mortgages that were totally inappropriate for them. Sometimes it was outright fraud, but Zachary also realized that borrowers had to bear their share of responsibility for what they signed, and they were often culpable for making bad decisions.
Wheat Ridge is what is sometimes described as a “first-ring,” city because it is a city so close to an urban hub. In some ways, it is hard to imagine a city better prepared to benefit from its proximity to Denver than Wheat Ridge.
It is close to one of the healthiest neighborhoods in Denver, West Highland. It is not uncommon for people to sell their greatly appreciated homes in Highland to take advantage of lower home prices in Wheat Ridge, where their housing buying buck stretches much farther.
I live close to two of the most important east-west arteries in Wheat Ridge – West 38th Avenue and West 44th Avenue.
Zachary has told me that he sees great potential in bringing smart growth to those corridors, by removing some height and density restrictions, as well as making them more pedestrian friendly.
He knows some people in Wheat Ridge will not appreciate any notion of growth, even smart-and sustainable-growth. But Wheat Ridge, he believes, has a great opportunity to put itself as more of a dining and shopping destination along those two roads, while still retaining its qualify of life and character.
Zachary also encourages more local ownership along the corridors. He said a number of restaurants and businesses that are family owned either have closed or are going to, often because the children of the original owners either can’t afford or have no interest in continuing the enterprise.
Perhaps most notably, Valente’s Italian Restaurant closed its doors almost exactly a year ago, after 44 years at 6995 W. 38th Ave.
Zachary said he thinks the city could work with old-line businesses for a succession plan. And he thinks the city can take measures to make Wheat Ridge more responsive to the needs of small business owners. For example, it could emphasize how a business owner can improve their building with the help of the city, rather than emphasize that it will be fined it it violates a code.
Contact John Rebchook at JRCHOOK@gmail.com or 303-945-6865.