Denver Seeks Consultant to Advance Affordable Housing Priorities

Zocalo Community Development is developing a 13-story, 381-unit apartment community at 35th & Walnut in RiNo that aims to give renters the opportunity to live in RiNo at a rent-check discount (Craine Architecture).

The City and County of Denver is seeking a consultant to help advance housing policies that would increase the amount of affordable and mixed-income housing specifically in transit-rich areas of Denver. Denver Community Planning and Development (CPD) and Denver Economic Development & Opportunity (DEDO) have issued a Request for Proposals (RFP), seeking a multi-disciplinary team to assist the city in implementing specific housing policy recommendations identified in Denver’s housing plan, Housing an Inclusive Denver, and in Blueprint Denver, the city’s comprehensive land use and transportation plan.

The selected team will be contracted to conduct best practice research, stakeholder outreach, policy recommendations, and economic feasibility.

“We’re working on many levels to advance affordability throughout the city,” said Denver’s Chief Housing Officer Britta Fisher. “This includes not only the bolstering of our funding resources to invest in needed projects, but also the establishment of forward-thinking policies and regulations to help create more affordable homes for Denver residents.”

“Since adopting Blueprint Denver in April, we’ve been focused on putting into action the bold visions and recommendations asked of us by the community,” said Evelyn Baker, interim executive director of Community Planning and Development. “We heard loud and clear the desire for more attainable housing options, for directing housing growth to areas with strong transit, and for ensuring new development is providing community benefits like affordable housing and open space. Creating clear policies and appropriate incentives is the next step in achieving these goals.”

Work on a citywide zoning incentive for affordable housing located near transit is set to launch in fall 2019. This work will build and improve upon existing zoning incentives in use at the 38th and Blake Station and in Central Platte Valley – Auraria. In these locations, incentive height requirements are a newer tool being used by the city to promote more equitable communities through affordable housing.

Work under the RFP will include extensive community outreach over a two-year period, and the city will convene a stakeholder advisory committee of residents, affordable housing advocates, City Council members, local housing developers, and others. Proposed changes to the Denver Zoning Code arising from this work would go through a public adoption process in 2021.

The RFP is also seeking guidance to help establish more consistent standards for affordable housing in major redevelopment areas. Efforts will focus on developing a policy that clarifies when a proposed development may enter into an agreement with the city to establish affordable housing units. The goal will be to create affordable housing commitments exceeding the standard citywide linkage fee on large redevelopment sites and on sites that leverage tools such as tax increment financing or metropolitan districts.

A general information meeting for those interested in submitting a proposal or learning more will be held on Thursday, August 15, 2019, from 1–2 p.m. in Room 4.I.4 of the Webb Municipal Building, 201 W. Colfax, Denver.


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