City Council Votes to Curb Development of “Slot Homes”

DENVER — On Monday night, Denver City Council voted unanimously to approve major changes to the Denver Zoning Code that will curb the development of “slot homes” throughout Denver. Slot homes are thought by many to be boxy, multi-unit residential buildings, arranged perpendicular to the street that often feel disconnected and out of place in many Denver neighborhoods.

Denver planners shared illustrations of current slot homes — and what could replace them under the new revisions.

The zoning changes approved by City Council stem from a year and a half of research, public outreach, and analysis by city planners and a volunteer task force. Read the final draft of the zoning text amendment on the Slot Homes website.

“We’ve heard from residents about the need for better design that fits in with the character of Denver’s great neighborhoods,” said Brad Buchanan, executive director of Denver Community Planning and Development. “This project addressed those concerns in an equitable, comprehensive way and requires multi-unit developments to better reflect the vibrant, pedestrian-friendly streets we all want in our city.”

City planners and the Slot Homes Task Force sought to improve outcomes for neighborhoods — while ensuring equity, flexibility and predictability for builders. The zoning change will ensure that more housing units face the street and engage the public realm, that the mass and scale of the structures better fits their surrounding context, and that negative effects on neighbors are limited.

The changes apply to several zone districts across the city where slot homes occurred, including main street, mixed-use, residential mixed-use zone, multi-unit and row house zone districts. Along with requiring that more units face the street, changes include requiring features like porches for street-facing units, reducing building height, limiting rooftop decks, as well as adjusting dimensions for setbacks, courtyards and driveways. The amendment also creates a new town house building form and improves the garden court and row house building forms while eliminating the general, shopfront and apartment building forms as an option for developments in which a majority of the residential dwelling units are constructed side-by-side. These changes follow the recommended solutions agreed to by the Slot Homes Task Force.

Images courtesy of City and County of Denver.

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