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City Council unanimously approves zoning update targeting "slot homes"

Denver Zoning Code change means future projects will be more like town houses and row houses, more in keeping with walkable neighborhood feel

The Denver City Council on Monday, May 7, voted unanimously (11-0) to adopt major changes to the Denver Zoning Code that will curb “slot homes” throughout Denver. The vote followed a public hearing and almost a year and a half of research, public outreach and analysis by city planners, a volunteer task force and the community.

"Slot homes" is a common name for boxy, multi-unit residential developments that usually consist of attached units arranged side-by-side and perpendicular to the street. These types of developments raised concerns among residents because they can look and feel out of place in older Denver neighborhoods due to their size, car-oriented design, impact on neighboring properties and the fact that they tend to face away from the primary street.

"We’ve heard from residents about the need for better design that fits in with the character of Denver’s great neighborhoods," said Brad Buchanan, executive director of Denver Community Planning and Development. "This project addressed those concerns in an equitable, comprehensive way and requires multi-unit developments to better reflect the vibrant, pedestrian-friendly streets we all want in our city."

City planners and the Slot Homes Task Force sought to improve outcomes for neighborhoods — while ensuring equity, flexibility and predictability for builders. The zoning change will ensure that more housing units face the street and engage the public realm, that the mass and scale of the structures better fits their surrounding context, and that negative effects on neighbors are limited.

The changes apply to several zone districts across the city where slot homes occurred, including main street, mixed-use, residential mixed-use zone, multi-unit and row house zone districts. Along with requiring that more units face the street, changes include requiring features like porches for street-facing units, reducing building height, limiting rooftop decks, as well as adjusting dimensions for setbacks, courtyards and driveways. The amendment also creates a new town house building form and improves the garden court and row house building forms while eliminating the general, shopfront and apartment building forms as an option for developments in which a majority of the residential dwelling units are constructed side-by-side. These changes follow the recommended solutions agreed to by the Slot Homes Task Force

For complete information on the project and the task force, including a redline draft, the staff report and presentation to City Council, strategy report, and overview for neighborhood organizations, visit www.DenverGov.org/slothomes.

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BUILDING COMMUNITY: Denver Community Planning and Development (CPD) is responsible for visionary city planning and ensuring safe, responsible, sustainable building. CPD regulates planning, zoning, development and maintenance of private property in Denver. We're working hard to make Denver a great place to live, work and play! Visit DenverGov.org/CPD or follow us on Twitter at @DenverCPD.

 

Below are images of potential building configurations under the new regulations in certain zone districts (in some cases, compared with what will no longer be allowed).