An architectural tour through Denver is different from Brad Evans’ point of view.
“It’s kind of like this chaos of materials and shapes that don’t necessarily match or make sense,” Evans said, pointing to a modern, boxy townhome near West 17th Avenue and Lowell Boulevard.
“We can do a lot better,” Evans said.
Evans runs a Facebook group called “Denver Fugly” that’s sparked a conversation about the architecture some believe is changing the feel of Denver’s old neighborhoods.
“It’s tricky because you want Denver to grow and you don’t want it to stay the same, but you want it to be that great place rather than this place,” Evans said.
City Councilman Rafael Espinoza has noticed a change, too. He sponsored a bill proposed by Councilman Wayne New that would halt construction of certain “garden court form” townhomes for a year.
“It’s a moratorium on sort of the egregious use of that form which is creating what is commonly referred to as slot houses," he said.
Espinoza said the garden court homes being built don’t actually allow a garden space between units. Instead, he said developers build them up as high and as close together as the building code allows.
“This was never ever intended to [allow] this scale or this intensity of development in neighborhoods that are largely single family and duplex,” Espinoza said.
Developers, builders and architects worry about the impact a moratorium would have on their future projects.
“There’s nothing that’s getting built that doesn’t conform to the code as it’s shown because the city is being very, very strict about that,” Denver architect Peter Pappas said.
Pappas said a moratorium would likely affect at least one project he has in the pipeline.
“I think it’s a bit disingenuous to throw your hands up and say well, a neighbor called me and said they didn’t like what this looked like and they didn’t like what this looked like. What can I do to stop it?” Pappas said.
Brad Evans of “Denver Fugly” is not convinced a one-year moratorium is a solution.
“How do we encourage people to build stuff and how do we get the city enough time to help them like rethink the zoning component?” Evans said. “I think that’s a challenge.”
The moratorium issue will be taken up again in committee on Aug. 3. A public hearing will be head at the full council meeting on Aug. 22.