April 11, 2013
The Denver Planning Board recommended approval of the Buckley Annex General Development Plan (GDP) with a unanimous vote on Wednesday, April 3. The plan will now be reviewed for final approval by the City’s Development Review Committee.
The meeting was well-attended by both supporters and critics of the plan. Board members acknowledged the long public process and compromises forged over density, building heights and edge treatments. They noted that the plan is aligned with Blueprint Denver and sustainable development practices.
The LRA will now revise language within the GDP to comply with three conditions of approval: elimination of a 35-foot setback for buildings on Quebec Street and additional intent language regarding use of potable water and renewable energy. According to Planning staff, Quebec Street is already a wide arterial with large setbacks. Having future buildings closer to the street will enhance connectivity with the Lowry Town Center and office park, and create a safer pedestrian environment.
Next the LRA will focus on rezoning the property and finishing the design guidelines. Both will be reviewed by LRA committees and Board and the Denver Planning Board in upcoming weeks.
The LRA addressed several areas of misinformation:
Traffic: The project is expected to generate approximately 9,500 car trips per day, the same amount of traffic as when the government offices on the site were open. And the cars will be go in and out through numerous streets, not just one entrance, so traffic will be dispersed. Buckley Annex will only contribute 3-9% of projected increased traffic volumes over the next 30 years; the rest is due to regional growth.
Buildings: There is a maximum building height of 5 stories in several areas, but only 3 to 5 buildings could be that height and stay within the density limits for the site. There will not be 5 story buildings throughout the site. Five stories is comparable to the Luce condominiums in the Town Center area.
Density: At 11 units per acre, the density is comparable to the Town Center area and the East Park Neighborhood. It is more than the West Neighborhood (7.4 du/acre) but considerably less than the Berkshires Apartments immediately south (35.5 du/acre).