12-story Condos Near Sloan’s Lake Get OK

POT RESISTANCE

Jon Murray with the Denver Post writes:

Controversial plans for a 12-story condo development on the south edge of Sloan’s Lake park have received a crucial green light to move forward.

A 12-0 rezoning decision Tuesday night from the Denver City Council allows NAVA Real Estate Development to build 12- and eight-story buildings at the southeast corner of West 17th Avenue and Stuart Street. Those are the tallest buildings allowed so far through rezoning for the $300 million mixed-use redevelopment of the seven-block former St. Anthony’s Hospital site, between West Colfax Avenue and the park.

During a three-hour public hearing Tuesday, neighbors, community activists and the developers dueled over increasing the allowed height from five stories to 12.

Many speakers, echoing concerns voiced by the Sloan’s Lake Neighborhood Association, suggested that taller buildings were better suited to front Colfax, as earlier planning committees had recommended, because they wouldn’t cast shadows on the park from there.

Some opponents also worry about increased congestion and density. A general development plan sets a maximum height for some blocks at 20 stories.

But the developer also received enthusiastic support from many of the 45 people who signed up to speak. Several said they were eager for the project, noting the amenities and people that its 198 condos and 26 townhomes could bring to the neighborhood.

Caught in the middle was Councilwoman Susan Shepherd. She has faced varying pressure from constituents over rezoning issues as she runs for re-election in northwest Denver’s District 1.

Her main opponent, Rafael Espinoza, testified against Tuesday’s rezoning request.

But Shepherd voted yes, saying it would help revitalize the West Colfax corridor and would fill a housing need. “We haven’t had many for-sale condos built in northwest Denver, or across much of the city, for years,” she said.

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