Preserve neighborhood character? Bring knowledge to the table.

Villa Park map showing development 052219 Screen Shot 2019-05-22 at 10.39.06 AM

Villa Park is a neighborhood on Denver’s West Side. I got to know it a bit last year when I was working on a freelance piece. I drove around Villa Park and nearby neighborhoods to get a sense of the how they were doing in this era of redevelopment.

The Denver Architecture Foundation, working with the West Denver Renaissance Collaborative, is thinking about the same thing and has sponsored three informational forums for residents of Villa Park. The concept is compelling: offer information to residents about how to work with developers to maintain the neighborhood’s character, to achieve what they want in their neighborhood, and to explain important elements of the city’s zoning code.

To me, this program seemed like learning to fight knowledge with knowledge. Or maybe shaping a level playing field for both residents and developers.

I’ve attended two of the forums. The most recent one, this past Saturday, discussed development forces. The previous forum explained elements of Denver’s zoning code that could have a major impact on the character of Villa Park.

Speakers Saturday reviewed major development projects near Villa Park, such as the Sun Valley EcoDistrict, the Broncos Stadium entertainment district, the River Mile, and Meow Wolf.  Information is crucial, since no neighborhood exists in a vacuum.

These meetings have been more than informational; I also found them to be inspirational. So many residents in Denver have watched the character of their neighborhood get blown up – that is, new homes and apartment blocks follow the zoning code, but have changed what people loved about their neighborhood.

My hope that this type of educational outreach can be reworked for other neighborhoods dealing with development pressures, while learning how the system works.

Below is a link to a story on the Villa Park forums in today’s Denverite, plus a link to the Denver Architecture Foundation and the West Denver Renaissance Collaborative. The image above shows a map of Villa Park; areas shaded purple indicate major developments in play. The image below shows how the new zoning code would have an impact on Villa Park because most existing houses are nowhere near as large as they are allowed to be under existing zoning.

WHat zoning allows Screen Shot 2019-05-22 at 12.24.51 PM

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