Sky is the limit for downtown Denver buildings when it comes to height

'Our Colorado' tackles building height restriction

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DENVER -- The sky is the limit when it comes to how tall buildings can be in downtown Denver but is taller always better?

The city is dotted with tower cranes and new buildings re-shaping the skyline. As Denver grows upward, we're asking what is happening to our views of the mountains.

"From a community standpoint ,it maximizes the tax base. Land downtown is scarce and so from a community standpoint we want to get as much investment; and therefore as much tax base on that lot as we possibly can, and so going up allows us to do that," said Randy Thelen, executive director for the Downtown Denver Partnership.

During the interview, Thelen pointed out the brand new Hines Building at 15th Street and Arapahoe. The new building makes an impact on the skyline at 40 stories tall but it's still far from Denver's tallest building. Republic Plaza has held that title since the 1980s, it's 56 stories and 714 feet high.

There's no height limit for buildings in Denver's core downtown but restrictions are in place for parts of lower downtown and the Central Platte Valley. A few months ago, a rendering of a 1,000-foot building proposed for 17th Street and California caused quite the buzz but the plans didn't go anywhere. 

The owner of that prime real estate said the land is currently under contract and can't elaborate on the details, but he doubts it will be anywhere close to that height. He said he's in favor of taller buildings as long ad they leave some open space and let sunlight in.

As Denver buildings grow taller, one of the main concerns is that new skyscrapers could block views of the mountains - something the city is also trying to address.

"I mean, (in) Colorado we are about the mountains and we want to make sure we maintain those views, but we are in a city, too, and the heart of our downtown we allow for density and we have to find a way to balance the two," said Thelen.

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