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Council changes requirements for apartment buildings

Ordinance requires 'condo mapping,' limits building height


Citing the Parker Master Plan's vision of making homeownership more available and the pending construction of approximately 2,000 new apartment units, Parker Town Council passed an ordinance Jan. 17 requiring developers to significantly change the way they design and plan new apartment complexes.

The ordinance requires developers to “map” multifamily apartment units as condominiums, providing a plan as to how the rental apartments could be converted to for-sale condos. It also limits the height of new buildings within 50 feet of a single family home to 30 feet, effectively capping new buildings in that range at two stories.

The ordinance passed by a 4-2 vote, with councilmembers Josh Martin, Joshua Rivero, John Diak and Amy Holland voting in favor and councilmembers Debbie Lewis and Renee Williams voting no. Mayor Mike Waid only votes in cases of a tiebreaker.

During the meeting, Rivero said many seniors can't afford to downsize their homes and the ordinance would ensure availability of condos for purchase after the town is more completely built out.

“We are running out of inventory,” Rivero said.

But critics of the ordinance, including Diane Leavesley, executive director of the Douglas County Housing Partnership, said the ordinance won't accomplish that goal.

“It's adding costs and not really solving their problem,” Leavesley said. “Doing what they're doing isn't making it any easier to build condominiums.”

The Parker Chronicle reached out to Rivero and the other five council members by telephone and email to respond to questions about the ordinance. They deferred to Waid, who answered by email.

“The process to create a condominium map is not costly,” Waid wrote, and it would provide an option for units to be converted in the future.

Speakers and councilmembers Martin and Rivero acknowledged that the reason condos aren't being built in Colorado is so-called “construction defect” legislation that makes insuring condos prohibitively expensive. But Waid saidin the emailthat once the state addresses the “flawed construction defect legislation” mapping apartments as condos would “provide an easier path to conversion to for-sale product.”

Leavesley agreed that it is “almost impossible” to build condos because of construction defect laws, but she disputed Waid's take on mapping costs, and said there is no guarantee any apartments would ever be converted.

Affordable housing complexes, for example, typically remain apartments for at least 30 to 40 years, and other developers prefer to rent out units for the income rather than sell them, she said Leavesley noted that adding costs on the front end of a project would cost builders money that could otherwise be used to reinvest in building repairs and improvements.

“There's a misconception that projects would be capable of handling the additional costs — that's not the case.” Leavesly said. “It won't get (the council) what they want and it's money that could be better spent.”


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