What's that? You want to build an $8.3 million, 51,000-square-foot office building somewhere along the Front Range? And you're wondering about building permit fees and estimated plan approval times in various cities and counties? Why, it's your lucky day!
Colorado State University has released the obviously-titled "Colorado Front Range Comparative Study and Scorecard: Building Fees and Estimated Approval Times for 20 Local Governments." In short, they've gone and done the work for you.
The study calculates permit fees and approval times for two hypothetical commercial buildings -- the aforementioned office building and an $8.4 million, 100,000-square-foot industrial warehouse -- in cities and counties including Denver, Boulder, Greeley and Castle Rock. It also rates each locale's customer service -- in other words, how nice and helpful the government folks were to the CSU grad students who conducted the research.
In that category, Denver ranks below average, but not necessarily because of crabby office staff. No, according to the study, it's mostly due to a subpar website. "The city website was the most difficult to use of the study," the study says, "with a severe lack of information on anything other than permit fees." The study also complains of too many "highly specialized" building-related departments that required time-sucking visits to each one.
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Aurora and Jefferson County also scored below average. The Boulder city office ranked above average, as did Greenwood Village. Castle Rock and Fort Collins were deemed excellent.
In terms of costs, the study found that Greeley had the lowest fees for the hypothetical office building, at $31,275. Boulder County had the highest, at $72,465. The city and county of Denver rank in the middle, at $48,024.
Nailing down estimated building permit approval times proved trickier, says Peter Kast, the recent past president of the Colorado Society of Industrial and Office Realtors, which partnered with CSU to do the study. Only twelve locations responded to questions about approval time, and if you're wondering, Denver wasn't among them. From what the researchers could gather, the quickest place to get your permit okayed is Greenwood Village, at three to five days. The slowest is Westminster, where it could take up to ten weeks.
Kast says the study is one of the first to be done nationwide. He hopes it will help Front Range cities and counties spruce up their planning departments, which would encourage developers to come to Colorado. "If we're easier to do something in than Tucson or New Jersey, that will give us a leg up on new construction and jobs and everything," he says.