Golden Triangle Zoning and Design

Latest News

Draft of proposed zoning changes and design guidelines now available for public review

The draft Denver Zoning Code language with proposed updates for the Golden Triangle is now available for public review, along with a proposed amendment to the Denver Revised Municipal Code to enable incentives for affordable housing. Download the documents and submit feedback by email to Principal City Planner Kristofer Johnson (kristofer.johnson@denvergov.org) by Friday, April 30. 

Along with these amendments, proposed design standards and guidelines for the Golden Triangle have also been drafted as part of the Downtown Design Standards and Guidelines. The draft is available for public review until May 11, 2021.  


Get the facts on proposed building heights and existing view planes

Recently, community members have raised concerns about how the proposed zoning changes could affect existing views, particularly the Cheesman Park view plane. What you should know:

  1. The city did complete a model and analysis of the potential impact on the Cheesman Park View Plane.
  2. The proposed zoning updates do not change height restrictions for buildings inside the view plane area.
  3. The analysis determined that additional height limits would have little to no impact on the park’s view of the mountains.

The image below shows a hypothetical tower, the proposed 250-foot height limit and the 325-foot additional height allowance if affordable housing is provided. 

 Mountain View from Cheesman Park

Download full view plane analysis and get answers to common questions(PDF, 1MB)

Learn more about how view planes work

Proposed Zoning Strategy

The goal of the zoning strategy is to achieve the plan vision for an eclectic, inclusive, and engaging community. The existing “one size fits all” approach applies the same zoning rules to all projects in the Golden Triangle regardless of size. The proposed changes would tailor the rules based on lot size to provide flexibility for smaller projects and ensure larger projects contribute quality design and neighborhood benefits.

Lot size

Current rules Proposed changes 
No zoning standards currently address different lot sizes.

Different standards would be applied to different lot sizes.

  • Narrow Lots = less than 75 feet, fewer standards
  • Standard Lots = 75-150 feet, greater standards
  • Wide Lots = greater than 150 feet, highest standards

Height

 Current rules Proposed changes
New buildings are allowed a maximum height of 175-200 feet (16-18 stories) depending on their location in the neighborhood.

General form buildings with total floor area up to 8 times the size of the lot would be allowed a maximum height of 200 feet (16-18 stories), or 250 feet (20-23 stories) if they provide housing that is more affordable or renovate a historic landmark.

Point Tower form buildings have very strict limitations on their size and separation above 5 stories. Point Tower buildings with total floor area up to 8 times the size of the lot would be allowed a maximum height of 250 feet (20-23 stories), or 325 feet (28-30 stories) if they provide housing that is more affordable or renovate a historic landmark.

 

Floor area

Current Rules  Proposed changes

New projects are limited by a maximum amount of floor area (ie, a measure of how much floor space exists on all levels of a building).

  • Projects are currently allowed to build up to 4.0 times the size of the lot without any special conditions
  • May qualify for an overall maximum of 7.0 times the size of the lot through floor area bonuses including market-rate residential housing, affordable housing, community-serving, arts, entertainment, or cultural uses, public art, or rehabilitation of a historic structure (only Landmark)
  • Above-ground floor area that is dedicated to parking is not included in this calculation.

New projects would also be limited by maximum floor area.

  • Projects would be allowed to build up to 8.0 times the size of the lot without any special conditions
  • May qualify for an overall maximum of 15.0 times the size of the lot by providing housing that is more affordable and by renovating Historic Landmarks within Golden Triangle
  • The proposed floor area is higher because above-ground area dedicated to parking is included in this calculation

 

Parking

Current rules Proposed changes 

A minimum amount of off-street parking is required for all uses.

  • Current zoning standards require about 15-30% of the total floor area for parking depending on the type of uses (leading to a total floor area of about 8.5-10.0 times the size of the lot)
  • Recent projects are providing at least 30-45% of total floor area as parking (equal to a total floor area of about 10.0-12.0) 
A minimum amount of parking would not be required for all uses to allow more flexibility for shared public parking, changing market demands, and increasing mobility options. 

 

Affordable housing

Current rules Proposed changes 
Affordable housing is not required to reach the maximum floor area as market-rate residential housing qualifies for the same bonus.  Affordable housing, or comparable fees for nonresidential projects, would be necessary to reach the maximum allowed floor area.

Street-level activity

Current rules Proposed changes 
65% of the building must currently be located within 5 feet of the front property boundary. Design guidelines only recommend the ground floor include active commercial or residential uses.  Proposed zoning standards would allow greater flexibility for location of buildings to provide more space adjacent to the sidewalk and have higher standards for window transparency, a mix of active uses, and setbacks for residential units at the street level.

 

 

Building shaping

Current rules Proposed changes 

No zoning standards currently exist. Design guidelines only recommend building shaping near Speer Boulevard and Civic Center.

Various zoning standards would require upper story shaping on larger lot sizes in all locations to avoid bulky buildings.

 

Open space, active uses and public art

Current rules Proposed changes 
Current zoning requires 25 square feet of open space per residence. This does not need to be publicly-accessible or at the ground level. Ground floor commercial uses and public art are not required. Projects on large lots would be required to provide publicly-accessible open space, nonresidential active uses on key streets, or public art at the ground level.

Design review

Current rules Proposed changes 
Staff administered design review applies only to the lower 80 feet for all projects.  Design Advisory Board and staff administered design review would apply to the entire building for all projects.

 

About the Project

Golden Triangle MapCommunity Planning and Development is working with area residents, business owners and neighborhood representatives to create new zoning and design standards for Denver’s Golden Triangle neighborhood. CPD will be evaluating all relevant zoning aspects including building form, height, uses, and street-level design characteristics to implement the recommendations of the 

The project will include updated design standards and guidelines to address more qualitative design aspects recommended by the plan, along with design review by the recently enabled Downtown Design Advisory Board.

The Golden Triangle (the Civic Center statistical area) is located on the southern end of downtown Denver, bound by Speer Boulevard, Colfax Avenue and Lincoln Street. It is home to the Civic Center Park, Denver Art Museum, the Denver Public Library’s Central Branch and several historic landmarks. The Golden Triangle offers a unique, culturally-rich mix of uses, history and character.

Key questions

What is zoning?
Zoning refers to the rules on what you can do on a property, what buildings look like and where they stand on the lot. All property in Denver has a zone districts, and the rules for each are defined in the Denver Zoning Code. The zoning that applies to most of the neighborhood is Downtown–Golden Triangle, or D-GT.

What are design guidelines?
Design guidelines provide additional direction on what a building should look like. Zoning uses specific rules and measurements. Design guidelines are more flexible and involve case-by-case review of the architectural details of proposed projects. The Golden Triangle currently has design guidelines.

Why change the rules?
The Golden Triangle zone district was last revised in 1994, and the design guidelines were last updated in 2002. The 2014 Golden Triangle Neighborhood Plan established a newer vision for the future and described strategies to support an eclectic, connected, creative, and livable Golden Triangle. It recommends updating the rules to reflect current priorities.

Will I have to do anything if proposed changes are approved?
No. The new rules only apply to future construction. They would not require a property owner to make any changes to their existing building or land. If existing properties are modified or redeveloped in the future, they would need to follow the new zoning and design guidelines.

What are the new rules intended to do?
The proposal is based on the Golden Triangle Neighborhood Plan's recommendations and strategies to improve the design quality, mixed of uses, and pedestrian experience within the Golden Triangle. The proposed changes aim to:

  • Encourage an eclectic mix of land uses, building sizes, and development types
  • Promote a broad range of housing opportunities
  • Reduce the physical and visual impacts of large parking structures
  • Support the protection/reuse of existing buildings
  • Ensure a better experience for pedestrians through better building design, highly active ground floor uses, and outdoor public gathering spaces

Advisory Committee

An advisory committee of 16 individuals representing a range of community interests will assist CPD in evaluating alternative zoning and design strategies. Additional community input will be incorporated through a series of open houses and other opportunities for comment.

Committee meetings are open to the public for viewing and listening, but public comments are not taken during the meetings. Meeting information will be posted on this page and materials will be added to the project archive after the fact. 

Name Affiliation
Kristy Bassuener Denver Art Museum
Chris Carvell Architect
Pete Dikeou Property owner
Charlie Hunt Resident
Scott Johnson

Lennar Multifamily Communities

Rhonda Knop Property owner
Anne Lindsey Property owner
Laura Liska Resident
Chris Hinds City Council Member, District 10
Chris Parezo Landscape architect/urban designer
Adam Perkins Downtown Denver Partnership
Cherry Rohe Artist, resident
Jeff Samet Commercial real estate, resident
Brent Snyder Property owner
Susan Stanton Denver Planning Board
Byron Zick Architect, property owner

 

Project Archive

Past community event information

Community Open House #1 
5-7 p.m., Wednesday, June 12
Denver Community Credit Union, 3rd floor


Community Open House #2
5-7 p.m., September 25, 2019
Denver Community Credit Union
1041 Acoma Street, 3rd Floor


Community Open House #3 
Virtual open house held over several weeks in March-April 2019


Steering Committee Meetings

Advisory Committee Meeting #1
3-5 p.m., Thursday, May 16
Webb Municipal Building, Room 4.I4
201 W. Colfax Ave., Denver 

Advisory Committee Meeting #2
3-5 p.m., Thursday, July 18
Webb Municipal Building, Room 4.F.6
201 W. Colfax Ave., Denver 

Advisory Committee Meeting #3
3-5 p.m., Thursday, September 12
Webb Municipal Building, Room 4.F.6
201 W. Colfax Ave., Denver 

Advisory Committee Meeting #4
3-5 p.m., November 21
Webb Municipal Building, Room 4.F6
201 W. Colfax Ave., Denver

Advisory Committee Meeting #5
3-5 p.m., Thursday, January 16, 2020
Webb Municipal Building, Room 4F6
201 W. Colfax Ave., Denver 

Advisory Committee Meeting #6
3-5 p.m., Thursday, March 19, 2020
Virtual meeting via Skype

Advisory Committee Meeting #7
3-5 p.m., Thursday, May 21, 2020
Virtual WebEx Event

Advisory Committee Meeting #8
3-5 p.m., Thursday, June 18, 2020
Virtual WebEx Event

Advisory Committee Meeting #9
3-5 p.m., Thursday, July 16
Virtual WebEx Event

Advisory Committee Meeting #10
3-5 p.m., Thursday, August 20
Virtual Zoom Event

Advisory Committee Meeting #11
3-5 p.m., Thursday, September 17
Virtual Zoom Event

Advisory Committee Meeting #12
3-5 p.m., Thursday, November 19
Virtual Zoom Event

Advisory Committee Meeting #13
3-5 p.m., Thursday, January 21
Virtual Zoom Event

 

 

 


Past Surveys

Kickoff Survey

To launch the Golden Triangle Zoning and Design project, we asked about new and existing buildings, street character, and neighborhood needs in the Golden Triangle. Below are what we heard from attendees at the first neighborhood workshop and respondents to our online survey.  

Question: "I feel like the neighborhood currently has . . ."
Rate from disagree to agree

Respondents: 131

Responses, shown in average value from 1 (disagree) to 5 (agree):

  • Comfortably sized buildings: 3.4 
  • Active and engaging businesses: 3.4
  • High-quality design/architecture: 3.1
  • Places where community can gather: 3
  • Pleasant streets and sidewalks: 2.7
  • Range of housing options for everyone: 2.1

Question: "I wish the neighborhood had more . . . "
Agree or disagree 

Respondents: 131

Responses, in percentage of respondents agreeing

  • Places to shop, eat and drink: 84 percent
  • Places to sit and gather: 78 percent
  • Places to live: 47 percent
  • Places to work: 39 percent
  • Places to park a car: 30 percent

Question: "If new tall buildings are built in the neighborhood, they should . . . "
Agree or disagree

Respondents: 131

Responses, in percentage of respondents agreeing

  • Provide benefits (e.g., housing, open space): 60 percent
  • Preserve an existing smaller building: 39 percent
  • I love tall buildings, no special requirements: 39 percent
  • Get smaller as they get taller: 26 percent
  • I don't really like tall buildings: 23 percent
  • Only be located in specific areas: 21 percent

Question: Consider how new buildings should be used in the Golden Triangle. Which of these goals is most important to you?
Rate from Not Important to Very Important

Respondents: 131

Responses, shown in average value from 1 (Not Important) to 5 (Very Important):

  • Variety of uses (e.g. housing, offices, retail): 4
  • Varied housing options (for families, seniors, professionals): 3.7
  • Require less parking (lots of transit nearby): 3.2
  • Design some streets around a theme/activity (e.g. arts walk): 3.1

Question: Consider future buildings that might be built in the Golden Triangle. Which of these goals are most important to you?
Rate from Not Important to Very Important

Respondents: 131

Responses, shown in average value from 1 (Not Important) to 5 (Very Important):

  • Encourage a range of building shapes and sizes: 3.7
  • Try to protect/reuse buildings instead of building new: 3.4
  • Ensure new buildings respect surrounding scale: 3.3
  • Continue to allow taller buildings: 3.2 

Question: Consider how streets should look and feel in the Golden Triangle. Which of these goals are most important to you?
Rate from Not Important to Very Important

Respondents: 101

Responses, shown in average value from 1 (Not Important) to 5 (Very Important):

  • Make sidewalks active and engaging: 4.8
  • Encourage small-scale public plazas and gathering spaces: 4
  • Make parking lots and parking structures less noticeable: 3.8
  • Ensure buildings feel comfortably sized next to pedestrians: 3.1 

Question: Would you support this strategy: Use a range of building forms that are tailored to different conditions to encourage a mix of project types and sizes"

Respondents: 177

Responses: Chosen from a scale (% of respondents)

  • Strongly support - 47%
  • - 20%
  • - 12%
  • Neutral - 5% 
  • - 3%
  • - 2%
  • Strongly do not support - 11%

Question: Which of the following strategies do you think will be the most effective in reducing the visual impacts of parking? Choose up to two

Respondents: 173

Responses:

  • Remove parking requirements - 53% of respondents
  • Set maximum parking limits - 49%
  • Hide parking areas - 44%
  • None of the above - 14% 

Question: What characteristics of existing buildings are most important to you and should be protected in the future? Choose up to two

Respondents: 170

Responses:

  • Architectural style - 82% of respondents
  • Cultural history - 56%
  • Size/scale - 26%
  • Materials - 16%
  • Other - 2%
  • None of the above - 6%

Question: If an existing building is protected, how much change would you be comfortable with if it were renovated or improved?

Respondents: 164

 Responses

  • Allow very few visible changes - 32%
  • Allow some visible changes (windows, canopies, etc.) - 60%
  • Allow major visible changes (large additions,etc.) - 52%
  • None of the above (protection not necessary) - 6%

Question: If large projects are required to support neighborhood priorities, which of these are most important to you? Choose up to three

Respondents: 163 

Responses:

  • Active and engaging streets - 76% of respondents
  • Greater range of housing options - 44%
  • Cultural uses (arts, entertainment) - 43%
  • Protection of existing buildings - 38%
  • Public art - 31%
  • Small public gathering spaces - 28%
  • Other - 9%
  • None of the above 3%

Preliminary Zoning Framework Survey

Download full survey results (PDF) 

Question: How successful are the tools to “enable a range of building types” at achieving the objectives of the neighborhood plan?

Responses: Respondents were asked to select an answer from 1 to 5, with 1 being “Not Successful”, 3 being “Somewhat Successful”, and 5 being “Very Successful”

  • 1 -  Not Successful - 18%
  • 2 - 8%
  • 3 - Somewhat Successful - 21%
  • 4 - 26%
  • 5 - Very Successful - 27%

Total Responses: 131


 

Question: How successful are the tools to “support neighborhood priorities” at achieving the objectives of the neighborhood plan?

Responses: Respondents were asked to select an answer from 1 to 5, with 1 being “Not Successful”, 3 being “Somewhat Successful”, and 5 being “Very Successful”

  • 1 - Not Successful - 20%
  • 2 - 8%
  • 3 - Somewhat Successful - 23% 
  • 4 - 23%
  • 5 - Very Successful - 26%

Total Responses: 133


Question: How successful are the tools to “shape larger buildings” at achieving the objectives of the neighborhood plan?

Responses: Respondents were asked to select an answer from 1 to 5, with 1 being “Not Successful”, 3 being “Somewhat Successful”, and 5 being “Very Successful”

  • 1 -  Not Successful - 18%
  • 2 - 7%
  • 3 - Somewhat Successful - 19%
  • 4 - 24%
  • 5 - Very Successful - 33%

Total Responses: 131


Question: How successful are the tools to “activate the street level” at achieving the objectives of the neighborhood plan?

Responses: Respondents were asked to select an answer from 1 to 5, with 1 being “Not Successful”, 3 being “Somewhat Successful”, and 5 being “Very Successful”

  • 1 -  Not Successful - 14%
  • 2 - 6%
  • 3 - Somewhat Successful - 18%
  • 4 - 25%
  • 5 - Very Successful - 38%

Total Responses: 131


Question: How successful are the tools to “promote neighborhood character” at achieving the objectives of the neighborhood plan?

Responses: Respondents were asked to select an answer from 1 to 5, with 1 being “Not Successful”, 3 being “Somewhat Successful”, and 5 being “Very Successful”

  • 1 -  Not Successful - 19%
  • 2 - 4%
  • 3 - Somewhat Successful - 29%
  • 4 - 23%
  • 5 - Very Successful - 25%

Total Responses: 121


Question: Do you agree that buildings on wider lots (greater than 150 ft) should be more slender as they get taller and have higher standards at the street level?

Responses

  • 67% - Yes, both should apply
  • 9% - Yes, but only higher street level standards
  • 7% - Yes, but only more slender
  • 18% - No, neither should apply

Total Responses: 135  


Question: You told us that affordable housing, preserving existing character, and new public art are the neighborhood's top priorities. Do you still agree?

Responses

  • 61% - Yes, I agree
  • 33% - No, I don’t agree
  • 6% - No opinion

Total Responses: 138


Question: Do you agree that the street-facing side of a building should incorporate an upper story setback to reduce its overall mass and scale?

Responses

  • 50% - Yes, across the entire street-facing side
  • 27% - Yes, only across part of the street-facing side
  • 16% - No, an upper story setback should not be required
  • 8% - No opinion

Total Responses: 128


Question: Do you agree that projects on wider lots (more than 150 ft) should provide retail, office, or other non-residential uses on the ground floor?

Responses

  • 55% - Yes, across the entire street-facing side
  • 24% - Yes, only across part of the street-facing side
  • 16% - No, non-residential uses should not be required
  • 5% - No opinion

Total Responses: 128


Question: Do you agree that projects on wider lots (more than 150 ft) should provide publicly accessible open space at the street level?

Responses

  • 59% - Yes, open space should be provided
  • 31% - No, open space should not be required
  • 10% - No opinion

Total Responses: 127


Question: Do you agree that property owners and/or developers should receive a bonus for protecting or reusing an existing building?

Responses

  • 57% - Yes, make it a really large bonus
  • 24% - Yes, but only make it a small bonus
  • 13% - No, a bonus should not be provided
  • 5% - No opinion

Total Responses: 128


Existing Conditions and Project Framework Interim Report

The Existing Conditions and Project Framework Interim Report documents the relevant policies, neighborhood guidance, and development trends that will provide a foundation for future decision-making in the rezoning and design guidelines project. It describes the existing neighborhood conditions and regulations under which development is currently constructed in the Golden Triangle and outlines the public process to clearly define the problem statement for proposed revisions.

Read the report (PDF)


 Zoning Framework and Alternatives Interim Report

The Zoning Framework and Alternatives Interim Report describes a range of zoning and design tools to address the objectives articulated in the Golden Triangle Neighborhood Plan. The report also presents a preliminary evaluation of these alternatives based on public feedback gathered thus far. A future Preferred Strategy Interim Report, to be released in early to mid-2020, will summarize the final approach to revise  zoning and design guidelines.

Read the report (PDF)