Denver Rescue Mission Community Center Okayed Over Neighborhood Association Challenge

The Denver Rescue Mission will soon resume construction on its 11,000-square-foot community center after the Denver Board of Adjustment for Zoning confirmed the city's approval of the project this morning.

Construction of the new facility had been stalled after the Ballpark Neighborhood Association filed an appeal that the board heard at last month's meeting.

See also: Denver Rescue Mission v. Neighborhood Association: Will Community Center Be OK'd?

"We are grateful and very appreciative of this decision," says Dave Schunk, DRM's chief financial officer. "We are also excited to be able to move forward with this project that will not only help those most in need, but also make the neighborhood a better place to live and work."

The Ballpark Neighborhood Association had challenged the zoning department's approval of the new community center, claiming that the city advised the DRM to change the language describing the new development from an expansion of current services to a "community center," which the association believed was done so that the project could avoid having to hold a public hearing. But in its decision released today, the board said that assertion was unfounded, because the city is encouraged to advise any applicants on dealing with zoning issues.

As envisioned, the new center, which is expected to be completed in July 2015, will include a larger kitchen and dining hall that could feed about 220 individuals per meal, a courtyard for daytime shelter, bathrooms and showers. It would not include additional shelter beds.

Judy Schneider, president of the Ballpark Neighborhood Association, says the fight to prevent the DRM's development is not necessarily over. "We are disappointed in today's decision by the Board of Adjustment, but not entirely surprised. We are exploring all of our options, including filing suit in Denver District Court to have this decision reviewed and reversed," she says. "It seems that everyone knows that this is an expansion of the Denver Rescue Mission except the Denver Board of Adjustment that thinks it's some mythical 'Community Center' that has no relationship to the Denver Rescue Mission."

The Ballpark Neighborhood Association will host its annual Neighbor of the Year award at 6 p.m. tomorrow, November 19 at the Spruce Tap House. We've got a pretty good guess for who won't be winning this year....

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