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‘Somewhere between soaring skyscrapers and soaring housing costs lies the answer’

Author: Adam McCoy - February 20, 2018 - Updated: February 20, 2018

How to make Denver’s transit-oriented development more affordable? (

Last week, Denver officials OK’d an experiment in the city’s River North Art District (RINO) they hope will help ease affordable housing woes.

Denver’s new height incentive applies to an area surrounding the Regional Transportation District (RTD) station near 38th and Blake. It will allow some developers to build higher than zoning rules would otherwise allow if they promise to add affordable housing in the process. The new measure was approved 10-2 by the Denver City Council. Developers who meet requirements in the RINO neighborhood could potentially build to 16 stories under the zoning amendment.

City leaders have tried many approaches to alleviate city residents being squeezed out of their neighborhoods due to surging rent and home prices amid an economic boom.

In a blog post last week on the platform Medium, Denver Council President Albus Brooks, the author of the measure, pointed to the height incentive as the kind of compromise needed to fix the city’s housing crisis.

Brooks writes the height incentive is “an example of adjusting the economy.”

“This is the thought behind these height amendments — beginning to capture the value that developers receive from increased density in a way that provides much-needed community benefits like workforce housing, art space, and neighborhood retail,” Brooks writes.

“The proven economic rationale of supply and demand in cities tells us that height restrictions limits supply, and with increasing demand for housing we will see soaring costs and greater displacement. This plan puts density where it belongs: near high-capacity public transit, following healthy national principles around transit-oriented development.”

The measure is about striking a balance, Brooks has said.

“Somewhere between soaring skyscrapers and soaring housing costs lies the answer, and it is in this space where we are most teachable, and where truly profound transformation takes place,” Brooks writes.

Read Brooks’ full article on Denver’s height incentive here.

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy covers Denver-area politics for Colorado Politics.