Real Estate Development

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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Welcome to the first installation of City Prism.  Law is what we do and a part of who we are, but our lives are fully immersed in the people, places and perspectives that create Denver’s identity.  Deeply entwined with our legal practice is our love of place.  This is our opportunity to share our personal insights.

The Golden Triangle neighborhood has officially welcomed a long-anticipated resident–the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art.  With a sleek $22 million building that seamlessly integrates a century-old studio (the relocation process being its own story), the newly reopened museum now has the capacity to exhibit about 6,000 art objects (still only 1/5 of the entire collection).  The gallery rooms are similar to visiting the home of an eccentric and extremely rich aunt, with paintings hanging over the furniture from the same time period.  It would be downright impossible to focus on every single object.  Better to focus on the objects that capture your imagination–whether it is the intricate china sets, funky lamps, or highly impractical chairs–and ruminate on what you would pick out for your own living room.
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The Knick property. Source: Pacific Legal Foundation.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a petition for certiorari in the case of Knick v. Township of Scott.  In Knick, the Court is being asked to re-examine its 30-year-old doctrine requiring takings claimants to exhaust state court remedies before filing a claim for just compensation stemming from a regulatory taking in federal court.  The decision to grant the petition indicates that at least four justices agree that it’s time to consider eliminating procedural hurdles created by the Court’s 1985 decision in Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank.
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For more than 15 years, Denver’s comprehensive plan, “Blueprint Denver,” has taken a binary view of neighborhood change—either a neighborhood should expect to change, or it shouldn’t—but it’s looking as though that practice might soon end.  The current system, under which every City lot lies within an “area of stability” or an “area of change,” now seems likely to disappear in favor of a four-tiered categorization developing as part of the “Denveright” long-range planning process.

A bit of background: under Blueprint Denver, the City aims to funnel development into “areas of change” that comprise roughly one fifth of Denver’s land area.  The plan’s complementary goal is in turn to limit growth in “areas of stability” that cover the balance.  Denver development pressure has to some extent followed that vision crafted in 2002, especially as new projects have advanced along
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