Some Sloan’s Lake residents fighting 16-story development planned for neighborhood

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DENVER -- Even on a cloudy day, Sloan’s Lake has a magnetism that draws people to its shores. It’s that same allure that has brought dozens of developers to the West Colfax neighborhood to build up the area. But the latest proposal for development has some homeowners drawing a line in the sand.

Zocalo Community Development is proposing a 16-story complex on the parking lot next to the Sloan’s Lake Rehabilitation Center, right across from Schulyer Cayton’s home.

“I think it’s over the top, literally and figuratively,” Cayton said. “It would essentially double the population of the neighborhood on nine percent of the land mass.”

The proposal would include about 320 units, with 160 for affordable housing and 140 at market rate. It also includes 10 affordable units for sale and seven three-bedroom affordable apartments that will be set aside for families with formerly homeless schoolchildren.

“The density with the traffic that it brings,” said Elizabeth Martinez. “If you scale it down and made it half of the size, then we wouldn’t be having this discussion.”

Martinez is one of dozens of homeowners with lawn signs out front opposing the high-rise, density and traffic they believe the development would bring into the neighborhood. She and Cayton say they’re not necessarily against development or affordable housing, but question the size and scope of such a project and the need for market-rate housing tied into it.

Others who live in the area believe the project will be a magnet for more development that’s walkable from Sloan’s Lake. They see it as a good thing.

“I think it’s incumbent on us to look at and to interrogate why we’re quick to say no,” said Jason Callegari.

“The level of density this project brings would make Sloan’s Lake more walkable,” said Daniel Gonzales.

Zocalo CEO David Zucker says he’s been working on this project for three years. They’re expecting a first reading in front of City Council for a zoning change that would allow for the project to move forward.

“This is an incredible opportunity to put our money where our mouth is as developers,” Zucker said. “If this is not the ideal location for affordable housing, then I do not know what would be.”

Zucker says the location is close to both Colfax and 17th avenues, which gives it easy access to RTD bus routes, and is within a mile of Perry Station for the light rail.

As for the issue of affordability, the Sloan's Lake neighborhood has seen a steady increase of single-family homes being bought out solely for demolition. Zocalo says roughly 740 homes have been sold in this fashion, and the new construction per square foot is increasing 300 percent.

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