East Colfax is a treasure-trove of historic and unique buildings filled with a diverse mix of independent small businesses and restaurants. Denver developers want to scrape these and replace them with ugly high-rise apartment buildings. Check out the 2012 Phoenix addition, above. Was the goal to make it look like it was built from scraps? These multi-unit housing buildings being built never include enough parking, which causes parking issues and congestion now on the formerly-quiet neighborhood street. Just ask the neighbors on this block–they are not happy to have this giant complex casting a dark shadow on the block.
The Phoenix building covers nearly all the land with pavement, creating a new heat island and more flooding potential as well on the block. The tiny tree pits built into the front sidewalk will house trees that will never thrive as they will suffer from lack of water, dry heat from the surrounding sidewalk and pollution. While city planners and developers keep promising that they will preserve our open spaces, the Phoenix is a perfect example of just the opposite. It has no curb appeal at all with the corrugated metal scraps appearance. As typical of all new development in Denver, they didn't build in enough parking and neighbors now have issues with parking and difficulty getting in and out of their block due to this massive structure.
Sadly, buildings like the Phoenix are rising out of demolished historic buildings and over open spaces all over Denver. The developments completely change the dynamic of the neighborhoods around them—from quiet blocks to congested ones.
Why are we building right next to neighborhood single-family homes? Why are they allowed to block sunlight from neighboring homes? Denver has a huge amount of development going on everywhere, along Colorado Boulevard, Monaco Parkway, in RiNo, along the South Platte downtown, we could go on and on. Are all of these tens-of-thousands of units not enough? Denver's population has grown 20% since 2010, but times have changed in the last few months, due to a global pandemic, and people are already making an exodus from cities. How can city planners see the future in these times? How much vacancy is there already in these newly constructed apartment buildings? City planners should take this into account and show the public some real statistics. They have the resources to do so if they were truly interested in this argument. But they just want to fill the public's mind with rhetoric.
Again, why are they focusing on building high rises on East Colfax right next to historic neighborhood homes and neighborhoods? The current building in Denver that is already underway will over-burden our infrastructure – we don't have enough schools, public transportation, hospitals, doctors, stores, water, electricity to meet the rising demand that these units will create. Not to mention the traffic that will get even more terrible once all these units are complete and people move in. Developers and city planners pretend that the people moving into these units will not have cars and will use public transportation. RTD has some of the highest rates in the country, and is notoriously inefficient and unreliable. Why add people along East Colfax, this is not a transportation hub – why not put more housing downtown where residents can walk and get onto buses or lightrails to get places? Is Colfax around Capitol Hill, which is closer to downtown, and would be more convenient for people to commute to and from, on the proverbial chopping block? It would seem like more of an obvious choice for this type of building before spreading east into the quieter neighborhoods. And, if you want to go to the mountains, as so many people do to escape the city, there are little to no options. So of course most people will opt to own a car. Just because the developer says that the new residents won't have cars does not mean it's true, nor can they enforce it, so that means that parking will become an issue for blocks where these new developments rise. The developers ALWAYS try to negotiate to build less parking and even the current parking requirements rarely meet the demand of the new units being built. Why not? It's not their problem when the neighborhood block becomes a parking nightmare.
So tell us again, why do we need to build on East Colfax? I think because the properties are cheap and developers can make a killing. And they do, and they are. Let's stop this madness.