The Committee met at 7 PM in the Community Room of the District 1 Police Station. About twenty neighbors attended the meeting.

81718083_2_0_avatar_mThe main item on the agenda was a presentation by Pete Tobin (Ascendant Corp.) and Ben Gelt (consultant) about the coming redevelopment of the Denver Post printing plant site (42 acres) in SW Globeville. Ascendant Corp. (owner of the entire parcel) plans to re-use the big old building (318,000 square feet,) re-purposing it as large showrooms and commercial spaces, design studios, offices of various sizes from medium to micro, shared facilities (e.g. conference rooms, media, reception), and spaces for amenities, coffee, dining, etc. Concepts can be seen at http://25-70.com/. Pete believes that the renovated spaces will attract, among others, “start-ups that have prospered and have outgrown their existing quarters.” Timeline? At least one anchor tenant wants to be in place by fall of 2014.

Pete and Ben particularly wanted to talk about the first new project Ascendant is proposing for the parcel: a 200 to 240-unit apartment complex on 8.25 acres at the south end of the Post land, closest to the future 41st & Fox Gold Line commuter rail station. This project, which they would like to have ready for occupancy by early 2016, will require a change in zoning of those eight acres, currently zoned I-B. Ascendant will be asking the City Council to rezone the residential site to C-MX-5. The rezoning is at an early stage, but the application will be filed soon. C-MX-5 will allow structures up to five stories tall. This is well within the scale of development that the 41st & Fox Station Area Plan envisions. At the appropriate time, SUNI PCD will need to take an official position on this rezoning.

Comments from Sunny neighbors on the 25/70 plan were generally enthusiastic. This is the kind of TOD revitalization we have been expecting and which has already produced the new apartment residences that the Salazar/Francone group have built on the site of the old Regency Hotel parking lot. Ascendant expects its rents at the proposed new complex to be in the $1.30-$1.40/square foot range. Unlike condominium developments, apartment projects do not come under the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance rules, but the anticipated rental rates will be noticeably less expensive than in River North, for instance.

The issue of traffic immediately came up. Clearly all the new residents will add to traffic pressure on Fox St. and maybe on 44th Ave. Ascendant Corp cannot change the general street access to SW Globeville, but Fox St. is rather wide. We have not yet seen any new circulation plan from the traffic management folks. The City typically requires developers to improve/create sidewalks and street amenity adjacent to their properties. Despite the new building already occurring along Fox St., an improvement of the street is not evident. [Note: perhaps a subject for a future PCD meeting.] Neighbors asked about a site plan for the whole 42 acre parcel, but Pete said the plan is not yet ready.

Neighbors brought up some areas of common interest. The Station Area Plan envisions various small parks and green areas, but no funding is allocated. Developers will need to provide much or all of this. The security, lighting, and amenity of the Gold Line station are very much a shared interest between TOD developers and the Sunnyside and Globeville communities. So is the expectation that the 41st/Fox station will serve both the Gold Line and NW Rail (to Boulder, eventually.)

Pete & Ben promised to be available to answer questions and to attend future SUNI meetings/events. They brought two handouts to the meeting: [insert docs]

The meeting continued with discussion of Board of Adjustment case No. 133-13, 4058 Bryant Street. This case had been the subject of an email discussion and vote of the Committee. For some reason, not positively determined, SUNI PCD was not notified of this case in the usual timely manner. Jan Stice happened to walk past the property, and she noticed the BOA placard announcing the hearing. The members who weighed in opposed the variance request unanimously. Although the hearing took place on 10/1, the issue was still hanging fire when the Committee met on the 7th. Since then the BOA has acted to deny the variance. The appellants wanted to subdivide a zone lot in U-SU-C1, creating two zone lots, one of which would be too small (square footage) and have too little street frontage (50 feet required.) The issue seemed to be significant, because the definition of the minimum size for a “buildable lot” in any particular zone district puts a limit on the total number of residences that can be built in the zone district. Sunnyside has many over-sized lots, especially on corners. This characteristic of the neighborhood contributes to a comparatively uncongested feeling, as well as giving space for larger gardens, old trees, etc. A possible downside, mentioned by Rod Kazenske, is that sometimes the wide side-yards become messy, overgrown, etc.

Other developments:

    1. Denver Housing Authority is renovating the La Loma apartment building at 3850 Alcott. DHA has reached SUNI PCD to suggest a presentation to a future meeting.
    2. Sadly, the Factotum Brewery has discovered an unfixable disagreement with its landlord, and the brewery will consequently be developed elsewhere.
    3. Denver Beer Co. has acquired the big building on the NW corner of 44th & Jason, but they don’t expect to get possession for a couple of years.
    4. Six townhomes have been announced for 4030 Tejon St. Test: See if you can figure out how they can wedge them in. Zoning U-MS-2. [Historical color: A life-long resident of Sunnyside remembers that 4030 Tejon was the home of the head of the local Communist Party chapter in the late 50’s and early 60’s. The building was splattered with red paint from time to time in those days.]

[Notes compiled by Keith Howard]

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