Susan Shepherd weighs in on No High Rises fight in Highland

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The signs started popping up late last fall: No high rises in West Highland. But the residents fighting a massive, three-building complex proposed for the heart of Highland Square didn't stop at signs. They also pushed city officials, including Susan Shepherd, the new Denver City Council representative for District 1, to put a halt to this project by RedPeak, a Denver-based company that develops luxury apartments.

The project technically fits within the new city zoning code adopted in 2010 -- but residents argue that the code does not take into account many unique aspects of the neighborhood and are urging Denver City Council to rezone the area. (Read Kyle Garratt's December 22 account of the controversy here.)

Shepherd outlines some of those unique points in the January 10 letter she sent to RedPeak -- a letter that should be the subject of plenty of discussion at tonight's meeting of the Sloans Lake Citizens Group, set for 7 p.m. at Highland Church, 3241 Lowell Boulevard -- the heart of the proposed project.

Mike Zoellner Red Peak Properties 1600 Glenarm Pl. # 200 Denver, CO 80202

RE: Proposed Red Peak development in Council District 1

Dear Mr. Zoellner:

I am writing to you today for a number of reasons regarding your proposed development on 3 parcels near 32nd & Lowell in Council District 1. First, I would very much like to commend you and your team at Red Peak for your commitment to convening and engaging in meaningful dialogue with neighborhood stakeholders to improve design and mitigate neighborhood impacts. I believe the Red Peak team made significant progress between the second and third meetings, and was pleased to learn of changes to the project such as increasing the setbacks by 10 feet, capping the height on all 3 parcels to 60 feet, including a second alley egress point for all 3 parcels, and deciding not to include ground-floor retail on the residential streets of Moncrieff and Meade. It is clear that you are closely listening to stakeholder input and working hard to implement changes to your project per the advice of the group and once again I would like to commend you for that.

However, the more I study these parcels and the history of the zoning decisions in this neighborhood, the more troubled I become. While I think there are critical issues concerning traffic and vehicular access to the proposed building on the Lowell parcel that need to be addressed, I am primarily concerned about the intensity of development on the Meade and Moncrieff parcels which very closely abut historic 1-2 story homes on narrow streets with limited street parking and marginal (if any) ability to accommodate additional infrastructural or other right-of-way modifications which might augment the success of the integration of this project into the neighborhood.

While I think significant progress has been made, I still think there is more work to be done. Therefore, I am respectfully requesting that you strongly consider additional modifications in height/density to your proposal in advance of the January 18th meeting of the design advisory committee, which I believe might mean 3 stories. Although I support moderate increases in density in the West Highland neighborhood, it is essential that this project proceed with the utmost sensitivity to surrounding context and unique neighborhood considerations.

As a Denver-based development business with deep northwest Denver roots, I know you are committed to quality projects that are well-integrated into their surrounding neighborhoods and provide bonafide benefits to the community as well as your company.

I look forward to learning more about your additional progress at our upcoming design advisory group meeting on January 18th.


Susan K. Shepherd, Councilwoman

Want to get people talking in Denver? Propose a project that seems out of keeping with the character of their neighborhood. It happens a lot in northwest Denver; click to read Patricia Calhoun's "The View".

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