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Denver changes affordable housing parking rules, paving way for new Five Points development

Charity's House development to start mid-November
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Posted at 5:23 PM, Oct 19, 2021

DENVER — Pastor Bob Woolfolk and his wife, Eddie, have had a ministry in the Five Points neighborhood for more than four decades.

“It’s been a passion of ours,” said Eddie Woolfolk.

And so, when an opportunity came to expand affordable housing in Five Points, they jumped at it.

“There’s definitely a need for decent, affordable housing,” Eddie Woolfolk said.

The project – called Charity’s House – is a 36-unit affordable housing complex available to those making no more than 30% of the median income in Denver, which is roughly $22,000 a year.

“You have to have two or three jobs at minimum wage to afford housing,” said Bob Woolfolk.

But the plan, which would knock down three vacant houses the Woolfolk’s own at Welton and 30th, hit a major snag because of parking requirements for new development.

“The parking, the way that it was, wouldn’t work for the 36 units that we were planning,” Eddie Woolfolk said.

City rules called for at least 22 spaces, even though two separate studies, one by RTD and one by Shopworks, clearly indicate those zoning rules are antiquated.

“The zoning code was requiring five times more parking than what we actually needed for these types of projects,” said Analiese Hock, principal city planner with City and County of Denver.

So, city planners and the Woolfolk’s went back to the drawing board and in June, Denver City Council voted unanimously to change the city’s zoning rules regarding affordable housing developments.

Before this project came along, city codes required one parking spot for every four units in affordable housing complexes. Now, the city has updated that to one parking spot for every 10 units.

City planners like Hock say the move is long overdue.

“This allows for projects that are serving households earning less than $25,000 a year to park at a lower parking ratio that aligns with actual demands and needs,” Hock said. “Folks at lower incomes don’t have the ability or resources to afford a car, the maintenance, the insurance – as well as they don’t necessarily need a car.”

“It took a year, but we got it done,” Eddie Woolfolk said. “We went through quite a few hiccups. I wish I had more land to do more projects like this because the housing market is just out of range.”

The Woolfolks also faced some opposition to the project early on from the Welton Corridor Registered Neighborhood Organization.

Denver7 reached out to the Welton Corridor RNO but we have not heard back.

The Woolfolks are working with BlueLine Development on the project and plan to knock down the vacant homes on the property next month.

“We do plan to move forward on this in mid-November,” Eddie Woolfolk said.

"It will be great for this neighborhood," said Bob Woolfolk.