Shepherd won’t seek downzoning

Take a poll on Shepherd’s decision at the end of this blog.

District 1 Councilwoman Susan Shepherd will not seek to downzone parcels in Northwest Denver.

Denver City Councilwoman Susan Shepherd announced today that she will not seek to downzone three parcels in West Highland,  saying she has reached a “significant compromise” with developer RedPeak Properties.

Shepherd, who represents District 1 in Northwest Denver, in an interview, said it would have been “irresponsible” for her to seek a downzoning, especially since RedPeak agreed to lower the height of one building to four stories from five stories.

“I really felt we made these incredible gains through the stakeholders group and me working with RedPeak and the city’s public works department,” Shepherd said. “I think it would not have been prudent to antagonize RedPeak by seeking a downzoning and risk losing all of these concessions.” She said that RedPeak never threatened to renig on concessions, “but the risk of that happening was just too great.”

She said she had approached a number of fellow council members on numerous occasions about the possibility of seeking a moratorium or a downzoning.”I approached my colleagues several times and I just never got any traction. I’m just too practical to waste my time on things I know have no chance. I would rather spend my time on productive measures.”

About a month ago, she told InsideRealEstateNews that she would not let West Highland “turn into LoHi on her watch.” She said that she still stands by that and with the commitments from RedPeak and the public works department she believes that problems with traffic, safety and parking can be mitigated to a large degree.

However, she said she knows she will get a lot of flack for her decision. Shepherd said she is concerned about her safety and the safety of her staff, especially in light of an incident last month in which two women came to her home on an evening that ended in a shouting match and threats of a recall election. “We have taken safety precautions for myself and for my staff.” Asked if that meant increased police patrols around her house and the homes of her staff, she said: “Yes.”

Hancock praises Shepherd

Mayor Michael B. Hancock, in a statement this evening, applauded the collaborative work on the Red Peak development:

“Robust public engagement is critical to move Denver forward and no one has worked harder than Councilwoman Shepherd to represent all parties involved in this issue,” Hancock said. “By working collaboratively, we are able to maintain the integrity of the Denver’s development process and zoning code while respecting the residents’ concerns and the rights of the developers. In order to drive job creation, boost economic development and ensure livability of our neighborhoods, the city is dedicated to maintaining predictability in our zoning and how it’s applied throughout Denver.”

Goode: Shepherd is “spineless”

Shepherd’s decision did not go over well with Laura Goode, the founder of the grassroots group, No High Rises in West Highland.

“She has no backbone,” Goode said. “She has no spine. She has shown the community that she is spineless. She has shown she is unwilling to stand up to the establishment and the powers that be. She does not have the capacity to lead the community.”

Asked if her group would support a recall of Shepherd, Goode said she did not know, because she must discuss it with other members.

Trevor Greco, posted this missive this afternoon on the No High Rises in Highlands Facebook page: “Neighbors and friends, you may have seen Councilwoman Shepherd’s letter today. While disappointing, please know that the neighborhood still has several tools in its toolbox to ensure sustainable development in Historic Highland Square. Please remain calm and supportive of every initiative you hear of, that can make a positive difference for the neighborhood we love, in a constructive and democratic way.”

Kevin Neimond, president of the West Highland Neighborhood Association noted that the WHNA recently passed a motion urging Shepherd to seek a legislative solution that involves down-zoning the three parcels in question.

“Certainly we are disappointed to learn that she has opted against legislative action,” Neimond said.  “We do, however, realize that finding a solution to the development issue that is amicable to the community that calls West Highland home and to the developer is a marathon, not a sprint.  We look forward to continuing our work on the Stakeholder Design Group and our efforts to reduce the height and size of the proposed buildings.”

RedPeak released this statement: “RedPeak would like to commend Councilwoman Susan Shepherd for her decision that she will not support a down zoning of the properties included in RedPeak’s planned multi-family development in West Highland.  Councilwoman Shepherd has been successful in facilitating a productive dialogue between RedPeak and the neighborhood through the Design Advisory Committee which has resulted in compromises that improve the design of the project and respond to neighborhood concerns, but also respects the vested property rights under the MS-5 zoning.  This decision helps solidify the strength and predictability of Denver’s zoning code and will help attract future capital investment in the City of Denver.”

One of the concessions Shepherd cited is something RedPeak had indicated earlier – it will voluntarily reduce the height of the luxury apartment building on the West Moncrieff Place parcel, just north of West 32nd Avenue, to four stories instead of the five stories allowed under the U-MS-5 zoning. RedPeak is planning three, luxury, energy efficient apartment buildings in the heart of Highland Square. With a cost of more estimated at more than $30 million, it is believed to be the single largest private investment ever in West Highland.

The building proposed on Moncrieff  now will be 47 feet tall, which is only two feet taller than the maximum 45 feet allowable height under U-MS-3 zoning, which allows a maximum of three stories. Earlier, Shepherd had indicated if she could not seek an agreement with RedPeak, which also has parcels on Meade Street and Lowell Boulevard under contract, she would likely seek to rezone at least the parcels on Meade and Moncrieff to U-MS-3. That was acceptable to the leaders of the No High Rise group, which more recently urged Shepherd to seek a downzoning, even if it is highly unlikely to be passed by the City Council. It would have needed a super-majority vote of 10 of the 12 votes, with Shepherd recusing herself. City Council President Chris Nevitt and council members Charlie Brown and Jeanne Robb already have said or indicated they would not vote for a downzoning, dooming any such measure.

Concessions could be lost

“I believe pursuing a down-zoning against the property owner’s wishes would be counter-productive and could potentially jeopardize the significant gains we have made, as the developer would be under no further obligation to honor concessions made to date,” Shepherd said in a statement. “Due to the extremely unlikely possibility of affirmative legislative action to rezone the three parcels or enact a moratorium, I believe prudent leadership means focusing energy on the things we can change: mitigating development impacts and advocating for design elements that respect the character of our neighborhood. We have already made significant gains but there is much more work to be done. I will continue to with all sides to address issues and settle differences as we work through this difficult process together.”

In a letter to the “community,” that Shepherd also released today, she wrote: “Many who oppose the Red Peak development have asked me to carry a down-zoning application or moratorium on the three parcels. On December 6th I told the community I hoped to make a decision regarding a possible legislative effort later in the month. Upon some consideration and reflection, it became clear to me the importance of working with the community, the city and Red Peak to fully pursue options for addressing community concerns regarding the proposed development. After numerous meetings with WHNA members and concerned neighbors, Council colleagues, city attorneys, and officials from Community Planning and Development and Public Works, I have determined an effort at down-zoning or a moratorium is not a constructive path towards rectifying this challenging situation. Not only would they be futile efforts but could place at risk many of the development concessions my office and local efforts have secured from Red Peak the past few months.”

A rendering of what the RedPeak building could look like on Meade Street.

Shepherd asked RedPeak to voluntarily consider reducing the height and mass on the buildings on the Meade and Moncrieff parcels in January, following extensive neighborhood feedback. She was especially concerned about buildings on those parcels because of their proximity to historic one- and two-story homes.

“Red Peak had responded earlier to part of my request by reducing height on the Meade parcel to 55 feet from a 70 foot maximum allowable buildout under MS-5, essentially reducing building mass by approximately 50 percent,” Shepherd said.

“With today’s commitment, we can announce to the neighborhood that Red Peak has reduced the Moncrieff parcel from five stories to four (stories) with a building height cap of 47 feet, which is only two feet higher than maximum allowable buildout under an MS-3 designation. Additionally, with these reductions, we have managed to achieve a 69 percent reduction in mass on this particular parcel, which I believe is significant.”

Since December Red Peak has been meeting with a design advisory group to both improve the design and mitigate impacts of this project. Shepherd reports that neighbor outreach to her office has consistently highlighted concerns about the project in five major categories:

  • Building height
  • Mass
  • Density
  • Parking
  • Traffic

She highlighted a list of compromises the stakeholder group and her office have secured to date:older group and the her office have secured to date:

 Building Height

Parcel A, (Meade Street) has been reduced to 55 feet from a 70 foot maximum allowable buildout under MS-5. Parcel B (Lowell) has been reduced to 60 feet from 70 feet. Parcel C (Moncrieff) has been reduced from five stories to four stories, and to 47 feet from 70, only 2 feet higher than the maximum allowable buildout under the current MS-3 designation.

 Building Mass

The building mass on Meade and Lowell have been reduced approximately 50 percent from a maximum allowable buildout under MS-5, as expressed in cubic feet Because of the reduction from five to four stories on Moncrieff , that particular building mass has been reduced by 69 percent  from maximum allowable buildout under MS-5.

 Density

Unit numbers have been reduced to 147 from an initial plan for 160.

Parking & Traffic

Red Peak is working hard to alleviate traffic and parking issues on their end, Shepherd said. That includes providing 47 more off- street parking spaces than required by code, and committing resources for a B-Cycle station near

West 32nd Avenue and Lowell Boulevard.

Public Works has made a firm commitment to conducting a comprehensive traffic and parking inventory which will commence in the next few months, sooner if possible, she noted. These inventories will:

  •  Evaluate the current parking inventory in terms of supply and demand to establish reliable baseline numbers for current parking and traffic conditions before construction activity begins.
  •  Evaluate the traffic control devices, counts, and signal timing in the area and make adjustments as needed before construction begins.
  •  Re-evaluate the parking and traffic conditions again after the development is built and occupied so that new trends and issues can be identified, and shared solutions with the community can be evaluated.
  •  Additionally, to enhance pedestrian safety and crosswalk visibility to drivers, at the Councilwoman’s request public works has agreed to refresh the crosswalk/stop bar markings to be brighter and more clearly defined at the five signalized intersections on 32nd Ave from Irving Street to Sheridan Boulevard and will also install countdown pedestrian traffic signals.

Nevitt, the council president, lauded Shepherd’s decsion.

“Rather than taking on an un-winnable fight and getting nothing for her constituents, Councilwoman Shepherd is showing admirable wisdom and pragmatism by focusing on negotiating for real and meaningful changes to the project that will actually benefit her community,” Nevitt said. “While not always popular in the short term, this is leadership for the long term.”

Goode, however, said that Shepherd should have launched legislative action to downzone the parcels even if it had no chance of passing.

“I told Nevitt…If you don’t agree with it, don’t vote for it. It happens in Congress all of the time. Shepherd should have introduced legislation to downzone the properties to show solidarity with the community. Her decision is very unfortunate.”

Before Shepherd released the letter, councilwoman Robb indicated that she would not have supported a downzoning. Because a motion is “quasi-judicial,” she said she could not address it specifically. “Hypothetically, I gave my word when we did the zoning code update to property owners and constituents alike that these were sound arguments and we would not just turn around and change them,” Robb said. “I do not believe that the zoning in northwest Denver for moderate density was a mistake. I agree with Chris Nevitt that a case could have made for two or three different alternatives for those properties with U-MS-5 being one of them.”

She added that she had met with opponents to the zoning. “They did make some cogent arguments, especially regarding Moncrieff, because of its proximity to homes. But then they also said that they thought all of 32nd Avenue had been mis-zoned and I told them that really hurts your argument. Should we just call the whole zoning code update a huge mistake and just throw it out the window and start again? That’s not going to happen.”

Robb also said that while the West Highland Neighborhood Association went on record as opposing the zoning, she said no one showed up at numerous public meetings to oppose it. “I know. I was at all of them. If it was such a serious mistake there were numerous public meetings where people could have gone on the record of opposing it, and they did not.” The WHNA had submitted its opposition and its ideas for alternative zoning designations on the parcels owned by an investment group headed by Tom Wootten with the city’s Community Planning and Development agency.

Shepherd noted that when elected to District One in the summer of 2011, “I began my tenure with little background or information about the three parcel sites encompassing the Red Peak development, along Lowell, Meade and Moncrieff. It quickly became clear as I first learned of the proposed development that there was a rich history of community dialogue the previous five years involving the two previous District One council representatives and local neighborhood interests such as the West Highlands Neighborhood Association (WHNA), as the City and County of Denver pursued the adoption of the new Zoning Code. After carefully researching and studying this history and the resulting zoning adopted in the new Zoning Code passed unanimously by City Council in 2009, I believe the Meade and Moncrieff sites are not ideally suited for the MS-5 zoning designation.”

But in an interview, Shepherd said that the concessions from RedPeak, while they will not satisfy everyone, are major.

“I’ve really hammered RedPeak. The concessions they have made, not only on the four-stories on Moncrieff, but the reduction in the mass of the overall project , are really significant.”

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Contact John Rebchook at JRCHOOK@gmail.com

 

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John Rebchook

John Rebchook has more than 30 years of experience in writing and communications. As the Real Estate Editor for the Rocky Mountain News, he wrote about residential and commercial real estate for 26 years. He has won numerous awards for business stories and columns that he wrote, both as an individual and part of teams. In addition to real estate, he also covered economic development, banking and financing, the airlines, and cable TV for the Rocky. In addition, he was one of the original freelance writers for GlobeSt.com, covering commercial real estate for the Internet publication.

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Comments

  1. “Shepherd’s decision is unlikely to go over well with members of a grassroots group called No High Rises in West Highland”.
    You think?
    Their heads are exploding right now.

  2. Kudos to Susan Shepherd for working toward a constructive solution in this matter. This something she inherited. Leadership means taking the road less traveled and making the tough decisions. A downzone would have been fruitless and futile. I think the stakeholders who have been meeting are owed a great deal of respect, for coming together for a best possible outcome. We are not perfect, and as John F. Kennedy said – Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

  3. Susan Shepherd has shown far more courage, maturity and respect for the West Highland community and the City of Denver in general than anyone in the No High Hises group. She is a leader who deserves kudos for her hard work on this matter.

  4. Thanks Councilwoman. I agree with Michael and Paul, as a resident of West Highland I commend your handling of this issue, well done.

  5. Reading Jeanne Robb’s comments in the updated version…. SHE NAILED IT. Where were all these opponents after Rick Garcia resigned? When the code was still in draft form, no one went to Doug Linkhart or Carol Boigon, to appeal on these parcels. Keep in mind that just two years earlier in April 2008, they supported the downzone on the homes throughout NW Denver that was brought on by many WHNA members – they had two sympathetic ears and did nothing. Furthermore, no one went to Paula Sandoval during the grace period from June 2010 to January 2011. They had the chance and did nothing.

  6. Laura Goode’s comments are sad and somewhat hollow. Of her supposed 1800 petition signatories, she has yet to even produce it, much less present it to RedPeak, or city officials, and calls to question its veracity, as how many of them are actual registered voters/constituents in the district. What concessions has her group offered in all the discussions of the Design Group? Why did No High Rises even agree to participate in the stakeholders group and what did they bring to the table?

    Compromise involves all parties to come with their list of demands, and then each gives up something. From where I’m standing, No High Rises has offered nothing but a demand to down zone that was doomed to fail. A failed down-zone legislative action would have allowed the developer to rescind its agreements, and all the work the stakeholders accomplished would be for naught. Talk about cutting your nose of to spite your face!

    • 23 Requests were made to Red Peak by the Design Stakeholder Group. Below is the detailed request list, RP’s answers (yes/no/tbd) and comments.

      Unfortunately, the top 5 requests/concerns submitted by residents/neighbors, have all received an answer of NO.

      Top 5 Concerns NOT being addressed by Developer =
      1. Height/Mass/Size
      2. Front Set Backs
      3. Transitions from Commercial Buildings (businesses on 32nd Av)
      4. Traffic
      5. Parking

      1. HEIGHT/MASS/SIZE=NO

      Requested that Red Peaks come down in height from 5-stories so their buildings match the adjacent and surrounding homes/structures of 1-2 stories.

      A.RNL stated “There needs to be between 140-160 units based on the sales price of the land” (MM1. 12/7/11)
      B. On 1/25/12 RP announced that Susan’s request for 3-stories on the properties would not happen. RP is proceeding with 5-stories on Meade and Lowell. Moncrieff is yet to be determined. The property might end up being 4-stories but this is only due to financial reasons for the developer. They might receive more financial gains by not building a 5th floor on Moncrieff so that they may charge Premium rents for the Premium views of Downtown from the 5th floor/east facing units of the other properties.
      C. Meade bldg will now have a height of 55ft. But because Meade st sits16ft higher than Lowell Blvd the Meade bldg will actually sit higher than the Lowell property. Buildings will be approx 55-60ft in height (fairly standard for a 5-story bldg) while the surrounding homes and existing businesses are 25-35ft. So this will NOT meet our request for them to match the surrounding neighborhood height/size pattern.

      2. FRONT SET BACKS=NO

      A. DSKG pleaded for RP to match the front set backs, from the sidewalks, to match existing residential homes. RP plans to build to the sidewalk as required under MS-5 zoning but will “stair-step” the Meade St property. 0ft-5ft-10ft going South to North between 32nd and 33rd. They can’t set-back Moncrieff property due to the existing Xcel lines in the back alley. However they could set back the property if they paid the $500k to bury the lines.
      B.The following is a request made by the WHNA concerning front set-backs. (the answer from RP was NO)
      We think these residential buildings should honor and respect the existing residential front setbacks along these residential block faces. We understand that the current Main Street zoning requires building flush to the front, rather than allowing a residential setback. These are residential streets, however, not main streets and we think that because of the unique situation involved, the Board of Adjustment would favorably rule on a residential setback variance were it supported by the developer, the neighbors, and the Council office. We urge Red Peak and the Council office to join us in supporting the requirement for a residential front setback to respect and honor the setting.

      3. TRANSITIONS FROM BUSINESSES=NO

      A. DSKG asked for buildings to have a set-back (or height transition) from the business district along 32nd Ave to match the set-back/transitions required from protected areas (i.e. homes). This request will not be granted. A 5 story wall will abut our existing businesses.

      4. TRAFFIC STUDY=NO

      A. No official traffic study is required by the City for this project. Please read comments made by Jim Turner, City of Denver Transportation Engineer. (MM 12/29/11)

      “How will mitigation recommendations of traffic study be reviewed/required?”
      JT: City’s general policy on a project of this size is to wait until it is constructed and then determine what if any mitigations can be implemented (at the cost of the City and taxpayers, rather than developer). JT explained that due to the existing buildout of this location, additional turn lanes, etc are not feasible without losing street parking, which is an unfavorable action, so City feels it is best to wait till after construction to determine modifications needed.

      5. PARKING (PUBLIC & VISITOR)=NO

      A. RP will provide parking only for shoppers at their retail locations and guests of their Renters. Not for the general public. They estimate 1 spot per bedroom and 2.5 per 1000 sq ft of their commercial space. If a couple with 2 cars rents a one-bedroom then they would have to purchase the second spot (if one is even available) or park on the street.
      B. Due to Fire Codes for fighting a 5-story structure fire, Meade and Moncrieff will lose public parking spaces in front of these buildings. Since these streets are not wide enough to accommodate the necessary emergency vehicles for structures of this size parking spots in front of these buildings will now be slated as fire lanes or loading zones (no parking).
      C. No official Parking Study is required or being done.

      6. GARAGE ENTRY (Vehicular Access Points)=YES & NO

      A. YES: RP has agreed to put 2 entry points on all buildings. They will be widening the alley between Meade and Lowell by 5ft to accommodate this. One from the street, one from the alley.
      B. NO: There is still widespread concern amongst the DSKG that the entry for the Lowell Bldg will become a major traffic/congestion problem. The entry is at the South end of bldg so extremely close to intersection of 32nd/Lowell. Left hand turns into this garage could back up an already congested intersection.

      7. DECKS/PRIVACY ISSUES=YES & NO

      A. DSKG pleaded for buildings to have No decks and No rooftop patios. Concerned these would intrude on privacy rights of surrounding homeowners and would create a feel of people “looming” 3-4 stories over them.
      B. As of 1/25/12 meeting there will be no roof top decks. However, Meade and Lowell bldg will now have a “common” patio/Deck on the SE corner of each building. Moncrieff TBD. RP has agreed to have limited hours/access to these patios to respect neighbors and noise.
      C. Meade and Lowell residences will have decks on the 5th floors only, (which is a reduction in the number of total bldg decks ) but, they do face the residential streets (as previously promised they wouldn’t). Moncrieff TBD.

      8. PETS (REQUESTED NO DOG POLICY)=NO

      DSKG requested a No-Dog policy be adopted for these buildings OR a Dog park be created on RP’s building properties. Neighbors fear that by allowing dogs and having no on-property pet park, these residents will walk their dogs across the street to surrounding neighbors yards for their dogs to “do their business”.
      RP has agreed to install “poop-stations” on property which offer waste bags to residents.

      9. FOUNDATION/STRUCTURE SAFETY=TBD

      TBD: This subject needs to be discussed further as no set answer has been given. DSKG has stated that the Developer needs to be responsible for any foundation/structural damages incurred, and homeowners/businesses need to be covered by a policy that the Developer pays for that is different than our Homeowner’s Policy. DSKG requested that this policy cover every house and business that exists in a 1-block radius (in all directions) from all 3 building sites. RP stated they are talking with general contractor about how to investigate, monitor and protect surrounding homes. We need this in writing and a policy in place before any building or demolition begins.
      Question still surrounds whether the Developer or the Contractor is the liable party for foundation damage.

      10. OUTDOOR & LIGHT POLLUTION=YES

      RP has stated that All lights will be shielded and full cut fixtures (meaning NO exposed light sources). No direct lights. No signage will be used on buildings except for the address.

      11. SHADOW EFFECTS STUDY/CONCERN=NO

      No formal study will be conducted however RP did show us shadow examples by using a Google program. Take-away from this was Yes, every surrounding home will incur some sort of increased loss of sunlight to their home depending on the time of day and season. BUT, biggest impact will be the Homeowners along the North side of Moncrieff b/w Lowell & Julian. You will sit in complete shadow; All day, All winter long. Also properties on Meade will see decreased sunlight during certain seasons/hours and adjacent properties to bldgs on Meade will sit in shadow.

      12. COMMERCIAL SPACES=YES & NO

      RP has promised NO commercial/retail space on Meade and Moncrieff properties. (BUT we need to get this written into the Deed on these parcels so to avoid future attempts and misunderstandings). DSKG requested that retailers all be of the local (and non-chain) nature. Lowell property will hold 12,500 sq ft of retail space (4,000 in church being a restaurant). 2.5 parking spots will be provided per 1,000 sq ft of retail space (for their retail only.)

      13. PUBLIC TRANSIT PROVIDED= YES & NO

      A. NO: Because there is no light rail route near this neighborhood and there is very little RTD service. Only one bus route option exists to residents (32nd route) and this service is actually being cut back. RP even stated that the “walkability” score for this project is low. Which means residents of these buildings will have to be car owners. The principles of Urban Development is to put Mass near public transportation in an effort to decrease reliance on cars. With no real public transportation options in this area this project stands to go against the very principles its trying to achieve.
      B. Yes: Because RP is considering the possibility of a B-Bike share and car share in this area.

      14. CONSTRUCTION TRAFFIC/HOURS= TBD

      This subject needs to be discussed further as no set answer has been given. RP has stated that their contract will insist that the contractor buses the workers into the site from an off-site parking location. RP stated that the Construction Agreement is something that is TBD and discussed further with the neighborhood.

      15. MATERIALS AND DETAILING= NO

      Still somewhat TBD. But looking into “party panel” (which is concrete slabs) alternating with brick. So far the materials and detailing are showing nothing that blends in with or matches the surrounding character of this historic and unique neighborhood.

      16. PEDESTRIAN EXPERIENCE/INTERFACE WITH SIDEWALKS= YES

      A. RP removed the commercial spaces from the Meade and Moncrieff buildings.
      B. Meade property will have 3 ground level residences with private entrances from the street.

      17. MECHANICAL ISSUES AND UTILITY HOUSING=YES

      A. RP has very limited equipment going on the top of buildings and will only stand about 3-4 ft in height. Elevator shaft is about 8ft and placing it in least visible location.
      B. RP has also agreed to use fabric style garage doors instead of coil style. Fabric styles open a lot faster and are quieter.
      C. RP has an electrical transformer box that will need to be tested monthly (will be loud). So agreed to work with neighbors on choosing the best/least disruptive time.

      18. SIZE AND UNIT MIX= NO

      A. RP Still planning on somewhere between 140-160 units (but looking more around 150).
      B. Meade st @ 48 units approx breakdown = (8 2-bdrm units, 10-12 studios, rest 1-brdrm)
      C. Lowell = 70 units
      Moncrieff = TBD

      19. MANAGING CONSTRUCTION= TBD
      (Hours, parking for workers, toilets, etc)

      TBD. But RP has stated that it requires it’s General Contractor to Bus workers in from off-site parking.

      20. INFRASTRUCTURE SUPPORT= TBD
      (i.e Water, Sewer, Gas, Electric)

      21. SIGNAGE= YES

      RP stated the only signage their buildings typically have is the Address. Will adhere to the West Highland Merchants District and their standards. Will avoid big and/or tacky signs.

      22. PEDESTRIAN SAFETY= NO

      No traffic study being done so not sure that pedestrian safety will be reviewed/addressed. Also there is still fear that the shadows these buildings will cast will cause ice buildup on streets and sidewalks that will become dangerous and a major safety issue.

      23. LEED STATUS= YES

      RP is going for LEED Certification. Probably Silver and not Platinum. Because Platinum would require them to decrease the number of parking spaces and since they know that is major concern for neighbors they will not try to achieve this level.

      • CJE: How did you arrive at a 16-foot height difference between Lowell and Meade? When I looked them up on Google Earth, the Meade parcel’s elevation ranged from 5407 to 5412, while Lowell’s ranged from 5,399 to 5,407. While the difference between the lower and highest point was 13 feet for the most part there seemed to be only a 5 or 6 foot difference between the properties.

        • Hank. That was a comment made by the architect in the Design Group meeting 1/25/2012. Quote taken from meeting minutes:
          “The elevation of Building A (Meade) is visible in the background” (can see top floor of Meade behind Lowell bldg) because
          •”Topographically, there is 16’ difference of elevation down the center line of the
          sites”

      • Another question. I understand your point that RP might get an economic benefit from being able to charge more for the top floor on Lowell if they could see over a 4-story building on Moncrieff. But wouldn’t it be economically better for them to have an extra floor on Moncrieff and do without the premium? If the average rent is $1400 and they make a 20% profit, that’s $280 for each unit. I highly doubt they could get more than a $100 premium for the better views. Plus, wouldn’t they be better off having more units because they could spread operating costs among more renters? And when they ultimately sell it, they would be able to get a higher price with more units, just like you would get a higher price by selling a home with more square feet. To me, lowering the height seems like a classic compromise. Yes, it’s not being done out of the goodness of their heart because there is some small economic advantage by lowering the height. But it seems it they are still leaving far more money on the table by NOT building to the allowable limit. That’s not even considering that they could probably get a premium in rents on a fifth floor on Moncrieff. Heck, if they could make so much extra by having better views, why not build a one-story on Moncrieff and charge a view premium on floors 2-5 on Lowell? But I was a psychology major in college, not a business major, so maybe I’m missing something. I would be interested in hearing from people who crunch numbers for a living.

        • Hank, here are the comments from Red Peak and RNL from last Design Meeting Minutes.I’m not just making assumptions and writing false statements. I’m printing facts that can be backed up. The Developer is the one mis-leading people by saying they “voluntarily” came down to 4-stories on Moncrieff and selling it as a concession. As you can read in the following statement from design meeting on 1/25/12 it’s being done because thats what works for them financially.
          “RedPeak is about 75% confident Building C (Moncrieff) will be four stories with a corner at three stories
          • RP: Tenants will pay more to use the decks and live in top floor units in Building A (Meade) and B (Lowell) if they can see skyline
          • Building A also has another step down approaching the residential
          • NHR: Why would RedPeak not do the same with the Moncrieff Pl. building?
          • RP: The geometry and parking don’t work in that configuration
          • RNL: That building is constrained on the east/west line and by the max.
          setbacks”

      • OK…. so demands were made of RedPeak and the response that wasn’t not 100% to the satisfaction of NHRWH? They did, come back with somethings. Now that they’ve given some ground, what ground has NHRWH given up? Compromise is a two way street.

      • A CJE: you are incorrect about traffic studies. According to Councilwoman Shepherd, Public Works will be conducting a traffic study and Red Peak will pay for a parking study. Further they will be providing 47 off street parking spaces for the public.

        • Michael the list was compiled from the Design Group meeting minutes. As of the last meeting on 1/25/2012 they were not planning to do traffic/parking studies. If that has since changed I was not aware but will be happy to make any necessary corrections.
          Also the public parking is for visitors of their residents and for their retail spaces only; and will be monitored. You can read the minutes from first 2 meetings on the No High Rises web site.

          • Good point Carrie. Tennyson was the entire stretch from 38th to 44th. Tennyson was street repair that tore up the entire length. This will be different in finite points.

      • CJE – Can you share with us who “DSKG” is? I don’t see those initials anywhere in any of the meeting minutes. My reading of the minutes is that items 2, 3, 7, 8 and 9 from your list were actually requested by the representatives from No High Rises. WHNA also submitted a list of requests. Is DSKG an abbreviation for No HIgh Rises? Or, is it meant to be an abbreviation for the entire stakeholders group? If it’s the latter, your use of assigning the demands of No High Rises to the entire stakeholder’s group is another example of assuming the entire community shares No High Rise’s views. Just a reminder, the stakeholder group includes representatives from 5 community stakeholders in addition to No High Rises – the others are WHNA, the business owners, the community/District 1 and Red Peaks/Brad Buchanan.

        • Grace, Yes the DSKG= Design Stakeholder Group. And since I am a part of this group I’m aware of it’s “make-up”. This list of 23 items did not all come from No High Rises. It is a list ALL groups made, voicing opinions/concerns, in the first meeting. I’m just printing the requests made (by ALL groups) and the answers given to us. You are correct WHNA made requests also and I’d be happy to share with you what those were and the answers of No that Red Peak gave them and why. All my information is coming from being a participant in these meetings and the minutes the public can view. I’m not attempting to distort or lie about the contents.

  7. I applaud Councilwoman Shepherd’s leadership on this decision. While the existing zoning is unfortunate, Ms. Shepherd engaged ALL members of the community to negotiate a significant compromise with the developer. Rather than cowing to the passionate and outspoken but pedantic No High Rises Group, the councilwoman’s decision acknowledges the reality of the situation: any downzoning effort would be dead-on-arrival. I don’t think many people in the community realize and recognize that Red Peak does not own the land; if a solution had not been reached in a timely manner, they may have walked from the deal, leaving the land available to the next group. Chances are very high that the next developer would not feel the same level of commitment to Highlands and would have built to maximize the allowable building envelope. Those three sites could have easily become cheaply built, blocky eyesores with insufficient parking. Instead, Red Peak’s interest in developing the high-end apartment buildings will create opportunities for more people to add to the vibrant culture and diversity that makes me proud and passionate that Highlands is my home.

  8. Laura Goode, just because the Councilwoman disagrees with what you want doesn’t make her spineless. In fact, I think she’s shown her spine by disagreeing with hundreds of her neighbors in favor of what is best for the City as a whole. She knows a down zoning would never pass the council and probably would have a tough challenge through court. She’s realistic.

    • Councilwoman Shepherd does NOT represent the city. She represents the residents of her district and is sworn to defend their needs and concerns. In this regard, she has utterly failed!

      • So George… if you wanted a Down Zone, outside of the 2 at-large Council members, you’d still need 10 other council members outside the disrtict to vote on this (city wide)… and they do not represent the entire city either. So how does that logic work?

  9. Thank you Councilwoman Shepherd. This outcome shows what can be done with the engagement of all the stakeholders. There was little or no chance that you were going to be able to satisfy many of the critics of the project.

    Ms Robb hit the nail on the head, people had adequate time to express opinions about this zoning during a LONG process. What the NHWH folks refuse to recognize is that this is not just about NW Denver, or the Highlands. This is about the integrity of the entire new zoning code. The theatrics, exaggeration, and emotional rhetoric of groups against this project (NHWH specifically) doomed their cause. Look at Robb’s comment about her meeting with them…” But then they also said that they thought all of 32nd Avenue had been mis-zoned and I told them that really hurts your argument. Should we just call the whole zoning code update a huge mistake and just throw it out the window and start again? That’s not going to happen.”

    This project accomplishes exactly what the Comprehensive Plan, Blueprint Denver, and the new zoning code envisioned. Areas of increased density in the city.

    I’m looking forward to the great addition this project will be to my neighborhood, and the city of Denver.

  10. Not much more needs to be said about the caliber of people on each side. Read councilwoman Shepherd’s words and then read Laura Goode’s words. Nothing more clear than people’s own words to show their true personalities, motivations and character.

  11. Maintaining the integrity of the zoning code and not allowing NIMBY’s to poke holes in it everytime they don’t like a project are of fundamental importance to the economic development of Denver. Investors and developers are not going to commit hundreds of millions of dollars to new development projects without the assurance that the rules will not be changed in the middle of the game.

  12. What is it about the pro-development crowd that makes you unable to see that there are MAIN STREET zonings on streets where people have to pull a car over into a parking space in order for another car to pass? I guess we live in a world where when you screw up, you’re not obligated to fix it. It just becomes someone else’s problem.

    It’s good that she has a fan club on the development websites because the majority of people that actually live in her district are seeing the realism of her lack of leadership, flip flopping, lying to constituents and the press, covering up of public records, claims that she’s not responsible for things she “inherited”, etc.

    I think we’ll know truly what kind of support she has when we see how long she’s in office. We’ll also be able to see the impact of these buildings for the next century, so we’ll luckily have a reminder of what flawed zoning mixed with incapable politicians can accomplish.

    • Dave. I think you’ll be surprised by the length of time Ms Shepherd is in office. You and the rest of the NIMBY crowd WILL be surprised by the number of people who want to thank her for standing up to the “tyranny of the minority”.

      One of the problems with the NHWH crowd is that they have never understood that just because they can get 200 people in a room that agree with them…that doesn’t make them the majority. I’ve talked to many people in the last few weeks who have changed their views on this project specifically because of the type of inflamatory and unsubstantiated crap you just spewed in the post above, and the type of shortsighted comments made by Laura Goode in this article.

      I would suggest that it is not “flawed zoning and incapable politicians” that are the cause of the problem. It’s uniformed loudmouths who exaggerate and try to bully people when they realize that because of their lack of attention, they missed their chance to affect the outcome during the 5 year process to rezone the very areas they are currently excercised about. Read Councilwoman Robb’s comments above.

      Contrary to what you believe, you are NOT in the majority in the neighborhood. You just spend all your time in a echo chamber. You might want to get out more.

      • I am aware that many, if not most of the business owners in the area support this development but have kept there comments private for fear of reprisals and organized boycotts by the No High Rises group.

        • Michael, I also know of business owners who took down their signs, opposing this development, because people who were PRO the development said they would boy-cott the establishment for supporting No High Rises. The NHR organization has never made any statements supporting a boycott of our local businesses. The efforts we are pursuing are actually in support of these businesses. Contrary to what you say many have expressed worry that they will not be able to survive the construction phase of a project of this mass. (look at tennyson st) So why don’t you and me both conduct a survey of businesses after this is all done. Granted the businesses still exist.

    • I hardly doubt the majority of the people in the district disagree with her. Do you think the residents along W. Colfax, or north of I-70 or Inspiration Point, or Sloan’s Lake, or Chaffee Park, or Federal Blvd are on the opposition bandwagon?

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