Denver City Council approves 20-year plan for city’s east side

Denver City Council approved a sweeping 20-year plan Monday evening to guide growth and development in South Park Hill, Montclair, Hale and East Colfax over the next two decades.

The plan, called the East Area Plan, would allow taller buildings along East Colfax Avenue as well as more accessory dwelling units in neighborhoods along the road. In all, the plan covers the area bordered east to west by Colorado Boulevard and Yosemite Street and north to south by East 23rd and East Sixth avenues.

While some residents of the area spoke against the move, council approved the plan with only Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca against.

Many opposed to the plan said they believed the community should have had more input. They also cautioned that the document would not, in fact, provide additional and sorely needed affordable housing in the neighborhoods there.

“It will not create affordable housing,” said Ron LaFollette, who asked council to vote against the plan. “It will most certainly benefit the developers who love density without affordability requirements.”

Others, however, argued that in the three years of development, the plan has offered many opportunities for community input. It might not appease all neighborhood residents, but it is a step forward in the right direction, they said.

Councilman Chris Herndon, whose district includes portions of the area, said he believes the plan finds a sweet spot.

“I’m proud of the work that we’ve done on this,” Herndon said. “And not everybody got what they wanted … But we are much better off as an east area moving forward with this plan than without.”

The East Area Plan coincides with the citywide plan, called Blueprint Denver, which council approved in 2019. It would encourage greater resident and business density along East Colfax Avenue and portions of Colorado Boulevard. Some buildings on Colfax would be eligible to grow from three to five stories under certain circumstances.

The plan also also includes a pathway for homeowners to more more easily add accessory dwelling units — like tiny homes or converting a detached garage into a granny flat — on their property.

The full plan can be found online at denvergov.org.

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