Rant: More Apartments are Great, But How ‘Bout Some Variety?

Drive almost anywhere around Denver these days and you will likely encounter construction-related traffic along the way. Sure, it’s annoying and adds some minutes to your commute or errand-running, but consider the alternative: It was just a few short years ago that local construction had all but stopped. To see people hard at work on projects designed to improve our city is worth a few delays.

The other factor at play here is Denver’s ongoing shortage of rental vacancies, which results in higher rents and competitive squabbling over the few apartments that are available. Even if we’ll never reach the levels of insanity found in cities like New York and San Francisco, locals have been rattled lately by how tough it’s become to find a decent place to rent.

That’s started to be remedied by new apartment construction all over town. From RiNo to LoDo to LoHi to Ballpark and beyond, new buildings seem to be going up everywhere lately. Which brings us to the rant: Do they all have to look basically identical? Check out the recent posts on Denver Infill, Ken Schroeppel’s go-to site for Denver urban planning updates. If you removed the location identifiers from each of these posts, could anyone but the architects tell the buildings apart?

Maybe such boxy, modern designs are the most cost effective, and maybe they’re even in demand as cities like ours go through their 21st-century makeovers. But one of the things that makes Denver so unlike many other cities is its wide variety of architectural styles, and its ability to surprise you from one block to the next. These new projects are welcome additions to our skyline in the functional sense, but their unvaried aesthetics aren’t particularly inspiring.

Rave: Welcome, Tim Connelly

This week, the Nuggets introduced Tim Connelly as their new general manager. Connelly arrives from New Orleans to replace Masai Ujiri, who bolted for Toronto when the Raptors made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Ujiri, the NBA’s 2012-13 Executive of the Year, received justified plaudits for helping the Nuggets thrive through all the Carmelo Anthony-related turmoil of the past few years, and he’s understandably seen as one of the game’s brightest young minds. But the $3 million per year he’s getting from Toronto is a price tag Nuggets’ president Josh Kroenke chose, understandably, not to match.

In the 36-year-old Connelly, the team is getting a young and hard-working hoops junkie who’s garnered glowing reviews in his past positions as a scout and front-office guy. Among his initial tasks will be to hire a head coach to replace George Karl—A-listers Brian Shaw and Lionel Hollins interviewed this week—and to convince Andre Iguodala to re-sign. (As excellent and versatile as AI is, the $15-plus million per year he’s likely to command may turn out to be better spent elsewhere.)

If you see a team replacing its coach and GM in any given offseason, that’s almost always a sign of organizational turmoil. But in the Nuggets’ case, coming off a 57-win campaign and loaded with a compelling mix of youthful, veteran—and if need be, tradeable—talent, the franchise is ideally positioned to maintain its recent momentum and build a true contender, rather than the annual tease we’ve grown accustomed to and weary of. We simply can’t wait for the 2013-14 opening tip.

—Image courtesy of Shutterstock