Denver declares moratorium on ‘micro unit’ development with no parking

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DENVER -- Denver City Council put the brakes on new apartment developments that do not include parking. The moratorium on "garden court" style housing structures will last for at least a year.

Those are the apartments being built on tiny lots, with no off-street parking.

For people who actually live along South Pearl Street,  adding developments like one planned in their neighborhood, they call a deal breaker.

A house at 141 South Pearl Street, which is about two blocks from Sushi Den restaurant, is being torn down for a 17-unit micro apartment building with no off-street parking.

It's on a street that's already notorious for finding a parking spot.

"The people next door could do the exact same thing," said Chip Coppola, who lives right behind the project. "We knew it could be an apartment building. That's fine. But we also thought that there would be some sort of rhyme or reason if you're going to have 16 units you would have parking for 16 people, no."

He's been told construction will take about 18 months.

"This is 17 units, zero parking requirement on a block that has all kinds of restaurants. It's going to choke out our local businesses," said Councilman Jolon Clark who represents the district.

Clark said Denver's new moratorium is too late for 11 projects like this one, and two, five-story "garden style" micro apartment buildings on a lot at 16th Avenue and Humboldt Street.

That means more than 100 units could end up on the tiny lot with no plans for parking where neighbors say parking is already very tough.

"We had our house on the market for 100 days and we had to take it off the market," said Megan Clark, who lives across the street. "Because one of the biggest issues is the micro units going up with no parking."

Developers are using a loophole in Denver zoning that gives smaller mixed-use commercial lots of 1,600 square feet or less an off-street parking exemption.

"Nobody predicted that anyone would even think to use it as that and all of a sudden we have a number of projects that have gone through," said Councilman Clark.

No matter what the design, the so-called micro unit apartment buildings are not what the city had in mind Clark said.

When it gave the mixed-use exemption for small lots back in 2010, the idea was to encourage re-use of older, run-down structures for new home or commercial projects.

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