Denver Officials Want to End ‘Slot Homes’

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City officials in Denver want to stop “slot houses” from being built. Some community members have bashed what they call the homes’ ugly architecture, which has grown prominent in a few neighborhoods within the city. The city’s Land Use, Transportation, and Infrastructure Committee voted this week to place a moratorium on slot home construction. The full city council must still approve the moratorium for it to become law.

Slot homes are boxy, multiunit buildings on a single lot often separated by only a few feet, facing toward one another instead of the street.

As new construction comes into the city, Denver officials want to change the look of its neighborhoods and make sure slot homes are not part of it.

“If the development community hadn’t forgotten about the places they were building in, I don’t think we’d even be doing this,” Denver city councilman Rafael Espinoza, who represents a district within northwest Denver that has a significant number of slot home developments, told WestWord.com. “But they have treated every parcel as some sort of design box on a computer and not understood that these are unique neighborhoods with different characteristics that should be responded to.”

But the slot home backlash doesn’t extend to everyone in the city.

“Some of them look really awesome, and then some of them are ‘What were you thinking?’” Matt Wade, who lives in a slot home, told ABC-7 News.

But in Denver’s booming housing market, some buyers found slot homes to be a less expensive way to break into a tight and pricey housing market.

The city’s task force will continue to allow urban townhomes, but the houses will be required to face the street, and not each other like a slot home. Developer David Berton says builders were usually able to fit 12 townhomes on a 12,000-square-foot lot, but with the new rules regarding slot homes, that will decrease to about eight on the same size lot.

Slot homes allowed more density without added costs to developers. “This was a project that we could build as developers and sell that buyers could get loans on that is not a condominium,” said Berton, who was also part of the city’s task force.

With fewer units allowed, Berton questions whether it’ll prove economical for developers to continue to build townhomes in the city. “Less housing choices and probably increased prices,” Berton says.

Slot homes negatively impact the character of communities, maintains Espinoza.

“The idea that density is impacted is sort of a false narrative that some people are using to pressure people,” Espinoza argues. “I hope that at some point it means a little less stress when a property you’re familiar with gets taken down—that what goes in place will be a little bit more respectful.”

Source: “Denver Council Committee Passes Moratorium on Slot Home Construction,” ABC-7 (Denver) (Feb. 6, 2018) and “Denver’s Much-Hated Slot Homes: Moratorium Against New Ones Coming,” WestWord.com (Feb. 6, 2018)

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