Hello Hilltop neighbors.
Your Hilltop Civic Association has been following the negotiations and developments with the proposed Cherry Creek Gateway East project for several months. We recently received the following update from John Tredennick, President of the Cherry Creek East Association.
Please see previous posts and updates here for background information.
Here is a link to the first post about original proposal – http://denverhilltop.com/mckinnon-harrison-street-rezoning-proposal/
Sue Bollman’s post recapping our Hilltop meeting about the project: Recap of Sept 19 Gateway Meeting
I am excited to report that after many months of negotiations, a community survey and many meetings, the Boards of Cherry Creek East and Cherry Creek North have reached an agreement with developer Doug McKinnon to reduce the proposed properties from five to four stories, and to make a number of other important concessions listed below. Based on those changes, both Boards are now supporting the projects and believe they will be a great addition to Cherry Creek, making the neighborhood more attractive with landscaping, setbacks, and two new gateways offering improved pedestrian and mobile access.
Last year McKinnon asked the CCEA board to support the rezoning of four properties on the corners of First and Harrison and Bayaud and Harrison from three to five stories. In turn, he proposed redevelopment of properties that are have been neglected for many years (empty lots, empty buildings and older apartments).
The east side of Harrison Street has long presented redevelopment challenges due to the lack of an alley access, a large city setback requirement along Harrison and a parkway’ setback along Colorado Blvd. The setbacks make the lots much narrower and less attractive to developers than others in CCE. The corners of the streets present particularly difficult challenges for development because of the heavy traffic and associated noise and air pollution along Colorado. As a result, for many years, no developers have invested the time and money to build at the four intersections.
Given the narrow and difficult lots, McKinnon sought the right to build five stories buildings on the properties, with two stories of parking underneath each. Though a plurality of neighbors in our survey favored the rezoning, this rightly caused concern among some because the land is zoned for three stories. Others were concerned about the impact on traffic and parking if the projects proceeded as planned.
The CCEA Board negotiated hard on your behalf and has secured a number of concessions that we believe will make this project a win for all sides. We did so in conjunction with the Cherry Creek North board led by former CCE resident Lou Raders. As a result, McKinnon will sign developer agreements backed by property covenants which legally bind McKinnon and his successors. These agreements will require the following major points:
1. A limit on all four buildings to four stories (rather than the requested five) with a maximum height of 60 feet (to allow for taller individual floors which will make the properties more attractive to compensate for the lost floor).
2. A requirement that the north most and south most buildings be residential with the two interior buildings available for office or mixed residential.
3. A limit on unit sizes and maximum number of units on the residential buildings.
4. Limits on the two potential office buildings to prohibit medical uses (often heavy traffic and parking). The current focus is on small business offices and private foundations.
5. A limit on total building mass with step-downs that go beyond zoning requirements to provide better street perspective and a design that will fit well into the neighborhood.
6. Tree lawns and protected sidewalks around the properties (as opposed to sidewalks at street edge).
7. Underground parking in excess of Denver’s required minimum to minimize on street parking.
8. An agreement to jointly petition the city to reconfigure the intersection at First to remove the pork chop turn lanes in favor of a safer entrance with pedestrian friendly walkways. Working with CCE, McKinnon will also propose a gateway at Bayaud with improvements for pedestrians and a completed bike lane.
McKinnon has also agreed to share building designs with us for comments and suggestions going forward.The next step for McKinnon is to present his plan to the City Planning Board and then to City Council. All neighbors are welcome to follow up with questions and comments on the proposal at our upcoming Board Meeting (Monday the 24th at 5 pm) or feel free to talk to board members. As always, you are welcome to attend City Planning hearings and present your views on the proposal at those hearings.