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DENVER — The Mile High City could be going big. Real big.
“I think growth is good. I think the higher the better," said Andrew Feinstein, the current president of the River North Arts District.
Feinstein is a big advocate for building up.
"We should make sure that we amplify our density around transit,” Feinstein said. “I think that's the key."
As a managing partner at Exdo Properties in RiNo, his group is planning to build a new hotel, office space and retail building at 38th and Walnut.
And they just successfully convinced the city to “upzone” the area, allowing buildings up to 16-stories.
"The goal is always to get people out of their cars and get them co-located around mobility opportunities," Feinstein said.
Renowned economics expert Dr. Kishore Kulkarni at Metro State University of Denver sees big opportunities in vertical growth.
"I think in large part it is very good news," said Dr. Kulkarni.
He says stunning buildings like the proposed 17th and Cal tower, which would be the tallest skyscraper between Chicago and Los Angeles, would add to the Mile High City’s allure – if you build up, they will come.
"We in economics call it latent demand,” Kulkarni said. “And latent demand is tapped by building facilities first, and then the demand comes later."
Feinstein also says vertical growth addresses the affordable housing crisis.
“The way to address affordable housing is to increase density because it enables developers to provide more units,” said Feinstein.
Part of the new upzoning in RiNo is a requirement that mandates builders provide a certain number of affordable units with any residential development.
“It allows us to densify around the (A Line) station here, but also mandates that we provide affordable housing,” Feinstein said. “I think it’s a win/win.”
“We have done a marvelous job of attracting new companies to the Denver area, so far,” said Kulkarni. “If you don’t like growth – try decay. Detroit and Miami are classic examples where the growth is not handled very well. And history proves companies don’t like to stay in areas where there is no growth.”
To be clear, both Feinstein and Kulkarni say the front range is still ripe for urban sprawl, especially between Denver and Ft. Collins, but the time has also come to rebuild from within.
“I think rebuilding from within is a great way to put it,” said Feinstein. “And I think we should grow higher. And we shouldn't apologize for growth. I think we should embrace it, but let’s be smart about it."