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Task force recommends ways to improve slot home designs

After hearing from community members on the problems with slot home developments, which were outlined in the Problem Identification Report (PDF), Denver city planners and the Slot Home Task Force developed potential strategies to improve design outcomes in all zone districts where slot homes occur.

The recommended strategies were presented to the community during an open house held September 7, where attendees offered their feedback. Currently, an external group of architects and developers are evaluating the recommended strategies. The outcome of this evaluation is to ensure continued availability of housing options across a variety of neighborhoods and demographics.

Once the testing is completed, the task force will revise the recommendations accordingly and issue a final strategy report, which will be available for public review and will form the basis for text amendments to the Denver Zoning Code.

To provide feedback on the recommended strategies, outlined below, contact Senior City Planner Analiese Hock (analiese.hock@denvergov.org). To learn more about the project, visit DenverGov.org/slothomes.

Recommended Solutions

Slot homes occur in a variety of zone districts. As each of these zone districts have different purposes and intent, the following strategies vary by mixed use (MX, MS, RX), multi-unit (MU, RO), and row house (RH, TH) zone districts. 

Recommended solution for mixed-use zone districts:
Prohibit slot homes and allow urban townhouses

Instead of slot homes, which turn their side to the street, side-by-side residential units could be built as urban townhouses that orient to the street, engage the public realm, incorporate reduced mass and scale, minimize vehicle-oriented design and limit effects on neighbors.

Note: Side-by-side units could also continue to be built using existing Row House and Duplex standards without side-facing units to the rear.

Diagram showing recommended requirements for urban townhouses in mixed use zone district

(A) Units oriented to the street would be required.

(B) Units that face the street would have to have a porch, patio or canopy that clearly marks the pedestrian entryway.

(C) Buildings could be no taller than 38 feet in three-story zone districts.

(D) There would be additional limits on exceptions to the maximum building height (which usually includes rooftop stair enclosures or other mechanical equipment).

(E) Single story porches, canopies and other features on structures on interior lots would be allowed to encroach up to 7.5 feet into the side setback, and off-street parking area can encraoch up to 2.5 feet.

(F) Garden wall and pergola build-to alternatives would not be allowable alternatives. The courtyard alternative would be introduced.  

(G) Dimmension requirements would be reduced to allow for smaller drive aisles and access drives for small-scale development.


Recommended solution for multi-unit zone districts:
Prohibit slot homes and allow urban townhouses 

Instead of slot homes, which turn their side to the street, side-by-side residential units could be built as urban townhouses that orient to the street, engage the public realm, incorporate reduced mass and scale, minimize vehicle-oriented design and limit effects on neighbors. 

Note: Side-by-side units could also continue to be built using existing Row House and Duplex standards without side-facing units to the rear.

Diagram showing recommended requirements for urban townhouses in multi-unit zone district

(A) Units oriented to the street would be required.

(B) Units that face the street would have to have a porch, patio or canopy that clearly marks the pedestrian entryway.

(C) Buildings could be no taller than 35 feet in three-story zone districts.

(D) There would be additional limits on exceptions to the maximum building height (which usually includes rooftop stair enclosures or other mechanical equipment).

(E) The block sensitive setback would be limited to a minimum setback of 20 feet.

(F) Buildings that are oriented to the side interior would have to be set back from the side property lines at least 12.5 feet. 

(G) Single story porches, canopies and other features on structures on interior lots would be allowed to encroach up to 7.5 feet into the side setback, and off-street parking area can encraoch up to 2.5 feet.

(H) Build-to alternatives would be eliminated. The courtyard alternative would be introduced.  

(I) Dimmension requirements would be reduced to allow for smaller drive aisles and access drives for small-scale development.


Recommended solution for row house/town house districts:
Prohibit slot homes or garden courts and allow only row houses or town houses

Instead of slot homes or garden court building forms, side-by-side residential units could be built as duplexes, row houses or townhouses where all residential units face the street in alignment with the surrounding neighborhood context of lower-scale development (often including single-family homes and duplexes) that directly engages the street. The garden court building form would be eliminated as an option.

 

(A) Garden court building forms would be eliminated and disallowed to improve predictability and ensure that all residential units face the street and are not located to the rear of the lot.

(B) All row house or townhouse residential units would have to be arranged side-by-side with a shared wall perpendicular to the primary street.