Dear Mayor Hancock and members of the Denver city council: no high rises in the Highlands

Citizens across the country are embroiled in battles to keep developers from destroying the character of their cities and towns, and now one such fight has made its way to my neighborhood, the Denver West Highlands. Here’s the note I just sent to the mayor and city council. I suspect a lot of our readers know exactly how I feel.


Dear ______________:

I know you’re aware of the issue so I’ll keep this brief. If the developers are allowed to blight the Highlands with high rises I will work aggressively for your opponent in the next election.

This cannot be allowed to happen, period. My guess is that about 90% of my neighbors feel the same way.

Thanks for your attention to this matter.


Sam Smith

10 replies »

    • Five stories, behind and around where Mead St. is.

      My guess is they’re targeting that area for the obvious reasons – Highland Square is one of the coolest neighborhoods in town and there are probably a lot of people who’d love to live there. But there aren’t a lot of places to live – no apartments hardly at all in the area. So high demand, low supply, etc.

  1. Hi Sam,
    I live walking distance away from the there. The zoning change notifications were up months if not a full year ago. I remember walking by them. That would have been the time to oppose this. Part of the proposed area are vacant lots. I’d rather see this space be used in a more useful way, that contributes to the local economy (more people shopping with the local merchants along 32nd) and helps raise everyone’s property values. For those reasons, I’m not opposed to this. Personally, I’d rather see buildings build that fit the neighborhood architecture, but let’s be honest, look around; that ship sailed long ago. Other that perhaps skyline/architechure issues, what specifically don’t you like about it?

    • I’m glad I asked, because I don’t generally consider five stories to be a high-rise. IMO five stories isn’t that big a deal, depending on how they’re built, what they look like when they’re done, and so on.

      Have you seen any plans for the buildings? Five stories of cinderblock construction will look terrible, but five stories of cool-looking buildings might not be bad at all, especially if John’s right about them replacing vacant lots.

      I guess that, without a lot more information than you’ve provided (or that is available at the nohighrises link), I think you’re taking a harder line about this than I think is warranted.

  2. To be fair, It sounds like another big part of the plan replaces part of a church. I don’t know the details, but I know the church ownership changed hands in the last year or so. My guess is that was part of the plan. Personally that church gives me bad memories. Years ago when wasting our time trying to getting petition signers to oppose Justice Roberts, one of the leaders of that church told one of the other volunteers he would burn in hell – for supporting abortion rights.

    • I think my issue boils down to “five stories.” In that neighborhood there’s not much taller than a couple of stories and I’d like to see the visual character of the place preserved.

      I’d be fine with more residences in the area. For a long time I was the guy desperately trying to find a place in the Highlands to move to and having zero luck. I’m sure the merchants would be good with that, too. But if I’m looking at the map right, you’re talking three big-ass five-story buildings (the monster place I lived in Uptown was only three stories) and that’s not a pretty picture.

      Now, if they’d like to pursue sites further up toward Berkeley (along 38th) that would be a different story entirely.

  3. Well what it boils down to for me is do you want suburban sprawl or high rises? As someone who dislikes suburban sprawl and wishes it was more affordable to live in closer quarters with mass transit providing the bulk of local transportation, I say build. Hire architects who will preserve the flavor of communities and reflect local aesthetic, but BUILD. Hell, start digging under existing buildings and put in underground parking so I don’t have to hike so far to go to Happy Cakes. There are already some tall (and ugly) buildings in the area. If Denver turned into a mass of light rail corridors surrounded by mix-use buildings and parks where people could walk everywhere, I would happy dance for weeks. Instead it’s a mass of multi-lane highways and parking lots.