Real Estate Development

This post follows up two earlier posts about a citizen initiative to limit residential growth in Lakewood, Colorado.  Details about the proposal can be found here.

On Monday night, the Lakewood City Council voted 10‑0 to call a special municipal election for July 2 to allow voters to decide whether to impose a

Denver released a public draft of a new Blueprint Denver on August 6. This marks the first wholesale revision to the citywide land use and transportation plan since the city adopted the first Blueprint Denver in 2002. The new Blueprint contains a serious (and for some, a welcome) departure from the first version of the plan, which has shaped the development of the city through tremendous growth over the last sixteen years.

A bit of background and context. Cities adopt long‑term plans that are supposed to guide subsequent decisions about land use policy and individual development applications. For example, a plan may say that the community values its open space. When the city receives an application to develop open space, the decision makers, be they the planning department, zoning commission, or city council, are supposed to consider the plan’s statement about open space in evaluating the development application.
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Resolute’s proposed self-storage facility is shown in the graphic above. Source: Resolute Investments.

In May, the Colorado Court of Appeals upheld the City of Thornton’s approval of a specific use permit for a self-storage facility against a challenge brought by a competitor self-storage facility.  While the court’s decision in Stor-N-Lock Partners #15, L.L.C. v. City of Thornton was a victory for the defendants, including the city and the developer, the court ruled that defendants in Rule 106(a)(4) actions may not recover delay-induced damages through the imposition of a bond.  Otten Johnson attorneys Brian Connolly and Bill Kyriagis represented the defendant landowner and developer, CenturyLink and Resolute Investments, Inc., respectively, throughout the proceedings.

In the case, Resolute obtained the city’s approval of a specific use permit for its project.  A neighboring self-storage facility challenged the approval under Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 106(a)(4), which allows for judicial review of quasi-judicial decisions by local government bodies.  The plaintiff alleged that the approval of the specific use permit did not improve the welfare of its property, which was one of the Thornton code’s criteria for the issuance of a specific use permit.  The district court affirmed the city’s decision but denied the defendant’s motion to require the plaintiff to post security in an amount that would cover the defendant’s losses incurred as a result of litigation-related delays. 
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We’ll start in Boulder and with commercial development. In February, the Boulder City Council directed city staff to draft an ordinance that would raise the city’s affordable housing linkage fee on new commercial development from $12 per square foot to $25, $30, or $35 per square foot.  Boulder’s current $12 linkage fee is the highest such fee of any city in the country between the two coasts, with Palo Alto the highest in the country at $35.  Even so, City Council members expressed that the current fee is still low enough vis-a-vis fees on residential development to incentivize commercial development over residential development. And more commercial development without new housing only exacerbates the city’s acute jobs-housing disequilibrium. 
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