Denver broadens its use of design reviews as construction booms

Support strong, but some wary of giving more say to review boards.

January 04, 2016 |
Denver broadens its use of design reviews as construction booms

Photo: Jeramey Jannene/Creative Commons.

During a building boom, Denver has tightened its codes and regulations on certain types of development, and the moves have widespread support, according to a Denver Post columnist.

Though developers worry that “forced beautification” slows progress and adds cost, and architects fear that standards restrict their creativity, the aesthetics of recent projects seem to have broad acceptance. For example, a large project in the Cherry Creek area is considered a fine model for future neighborhood development.

The project used “genuine” materials, created retail spaces that are lively and transparent to keep the visuals interesting, and public plazas were built to human scale common to a low-rise area.

Denver now has about 20 neighborhoods, including historic areas, and large developments where new projects face mandatory review by the planning department. Only about 15% of the city’s total land area is subject to these reviews, however. Developers say the reviews must be timely and conducted by qualified staff for them to be effective.

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