The Future of Denver

The Mile High City is consistently hailed as one of the best places to live in the United States—and who are we to argue? But with an additional 1.5 million people expected to move to the Front Range by 2035, our treasured lifestyle may be at risk. We dug through reams of city-planning documents, talked to dozens of Coloradans, and put together a vision for the future of our city. Now, it's time to make this vision a reality.

December 2009

Taking a Different Tack

The new zoning code offers a streamlined approach to neighborhood renovation.

Whether it's the contractor building a monstrous duplex that kills the view from your bedroom window, the restaurateur applying to add a patio, or the neighbor wanting to build a carriage house in his backyard, nothing fires up homeowners like the issue of zoning. Little surprise, then, that the new zoning code (www.newcodedenver.org) has some folks worried.

Peter Park, Denver's manager of community planning and development, wants to reassure them. "We're not looking to change Park Hill and have 30-story high-rises replace single-family homes," Park says. "We want to maintain [neighborhoods'] same general character."

Park says the new zoning parameters will guide builders looking to redevelop "areas of change," including neighborhoods such as Stapleton, Lowry, and downtown. Most Denverites' surroundings will still look the same; there will just be simpler rules for when people or businesses want to renovate their properties. Laws governing carriage houses on urban lots will finally be clarified, as will the construction of traditional mixed-use buildings with apartments above storefronts.

Simplification is the key. "As we're climbing out of the Great Recession, the last thing to challenge desirable growth should be the regulatory aspect," Park says. "Zoning should be a clear piece of the puzzle."