Blog by Jennifer Allan

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Northwest Denver DOWNZONED! How do I feel about it?

As you may have heard, the Denver City Council had a marathon session on Monday night - rumor has it that it finally broke up at 3am! I say "rumor" because I gave up around 9pm - I'm a lightweight when it comes to political events.

The topic at hand? Whether to approve a request to "downzone" two sections of my beloved Northwest Denver infilneighborhood in Sloan's Lake and West Highland. "Downzone" means, in this case, to change the zoning of an existing property from R2 to R1. Why downzone? To stop the destruction of existing single-family homes and the subsequent construction of multi-family homes, specifically duplexes and triplexes. In Denver, R1 zoning means that you can build ONLY a single-family home; R2 allows multi-family.

For those who live here, you know that in the last few years, there has been an explosion of such multi-family development in an area that has always been predominantly single-family. Is this development a good thing? A bad thing? Of course, it depends on your perspective. If you live next door to a new 5000 square foot duplex, you probably think it's a bad thing. I know I would. But many support and appreciate the new development, and I'm not just talking about the so-called "greedy developers."

I initially came out against the proposed downzoning for all the reasons discussed (for hours) on Monday night. But now that it's over, I'm okay with the outcome. That surprised me. But, truth be told, after listening to both sides of the argument, I can truly sympathize with those who support the downzoning. There IS an ambience to our neighborhood that is threatened by the development. There ARE serious inconveniences to those living near the construction sites and subsequent multi-family buildings. As much as I love modern architecture, some of it does look kinda silly mixed in with our Bungalows, Tudors and Victorians.

However, had the decision gone the other way, I'd have been happy, too. Our neighborhood needs more family-friendly homes. People want to live here, but for many, a 1000 sqft Bungalow just doesn't cut it, nor does everyone want to deal with the sloping floors of the larger Victorians. I would love to live in one of the new duplexes along Sloan's Lake and I'm a little disappointed that there won't be more built to accommodate ME when I'm ready to buy one.

So... I'm ambivalent. Unusual for me - I tend to rather opinionated on most matters. But I'm content. Life here will go on, real estate will continue to be built and exchange hands. I'll continue to rollerblade around Sloan's Lake and run to Sunflower Market for my lunchtime sushi. And, no, I won't be able to sell my 1927 Bungalow to a developer and retire. Ah well. Again, life goes on.