Denver City Council set to vote on allowing taller buildings at 38th and Blake

This would be the first time the city has offered a density bonus in exchange for affordable housing.

Rendering showing building heights near the station from the Cole neighborhood. (Courtesy City of Denver)38th and blake; rino; development; denver; colorado; denverite;
OZ Architecture's rendering of River North in 2020. (OZ Architecture)
OZ Architecture’s rendering of River North in 2020. (OZ Architecture)

Denver City Council has a big vote scheduled Monday on creating a permanent affordable housing fund. When that business is settled, the council will hold another public hearing and vote on a change city planners hope will bring more affordable housing without a big taxpayer subsidy.

Instead, developers would get to build up, packing more units into the same lots, if they offer affordable housing.

The 38th and Blake height amendments have been in the works for more than a year, and the Denver City Council moved them forward last week with no comment. They’re set for final approval Monday.

The height amendments aren’t only about affordable housing. They’re part of the city’s transit-oriented development strategy, which calls for more density around RTD stations, like the A Line’s 38th and Blake station. The proposal calls for taller buildings, as high as eight stories, near the station and along Brighton Boulevard and lower heights as you get closer to existing one- and two-story residential areas in Cole and Globeville.

Rendering showing building heights near the station from the Cole neighborhood. (Courtesy City of Denver) 38th and blake; rino; development; denver; colorado; denverite;
Rendering showing building heights near the station from the Cole neighborhood. (Courtesy City of Denver)

But developers who promise to make a certain portion of a building permanently affordable could go as high as 16 stories.

You can see more renderings of what this might look like here.

Just how much affordable housing would be required and at what income levels to trigger the greater heights is still being worked out. That’s probably a conversation for 2017.

Proposed height amendments at 38th and Blake streets. The numbers are the base heights allowed under the zoning. The colors indicate the height that would be allowed if affordable housing is included. (Courtesy City of Denver) 38th and blake; rino; development; denver; colorado; denverite;
Proposed height amendments at 38th and Blake streets. The numbers are the base heights allowed under the zoning. The colors indicate the height that would be allowed if affordable housing is included. (Courtesy City of Denver)

This would be the first time the city has offered a density bonus in exchange for affordable housing. Some council members wanted to use that as an incentive in the new Arapahoe Square zoning districts approved in June, but there wasn’t enough support. In that area, where downtown transitions into Curtis Park, developers can get a height bonus for hiding their parking with a “wrap” of other uses or for not having above-ground parking.

Correction: This story was changed to correct information about how parking relates to height bonuses in Arapahoe Square.

Assistant Editor Erica Meltzer can be reached via email at emeltzer@denverite.com or twitter.com/meltzere

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Erica Meltzer

Author: Erica Meltzer

Erica Meltzer covers government and politics. She's worked for newspapers in Colorado, Arizona and Illinois and once won a First Amendment Award by showing up in the wrong place at the wrong time. She served in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and can swear fluently in Guarani. She gets emotional about public libraries. Contact Erica Meltzer at 303-502-2802, emeltzer@denverite.com or @meltzere.