Near Northwest Area Plan Adopted by City Council

By Kathryn White

Denver City Council voted unanimously Jan. 22 to adopt the Near Northwest Area Plan, a community-driven city planning tool over two years in the making.

The plan calls for the city to focus its long-term efforts in the neighborhoods of Chaffee Park, Sunnyside, Highland and Jefferson Park on: 1) wealth building and access to affordable housing, 2) health and well-being, 3) multimodal options and safety, 4) businesses and jobs, and 5) preserving and celebrating great places.

The plan’s recommendations to create and preserve affordable housing range from encouraging retention of existing older homes and preventing housing displacement to prioritizing new affordable housing and expanding “missing middle” housing, sometimes also called “gentle density.” These are generally seen as housing options like townhomes, duplexes and triplexes, or housing options that fall somewhere between single family homes and mid- to high-rise apartment buildings.

Nola Miguel, a member of the volunteer steering committee from Chaffee Park, spoke in favor of the plan’s adoption. Miguel pointed to data in the plan about the area’s decreasing Latino population — from 71% to 35% over the last 20 years — as a primary motivation for her involvement.

“That is something that we should be talking about,” Miguel said. “That is something that we should be taking action on. Not to mention how much the prices of homes have gone up during that time period. This is what happens when we don’t have strategic plans for how to shift these things, how to keep people in the neighborhood.”

Mike Blake, a member of the steering committee who has lived in Jefferson Park since 2010, also spoke in favor of the plan. “Denver’s Northside has a rich history reflecting the diversity of the city,” he said, “and you probably couldn’t find four more distinct neighborhoods in Denver to work together on one plan.”

City Council President Pro-Tem Amanda Sandoval, who represents the four neighborhoods and spoke about being born and raised in North Denver, appreciated the specificity of the plan. She called attention to tools the plan identifies to counter the residual impacts of historic redlining in North Denver, as well as to preservation incentives for adaptive reuse.

“I hope that we, as a council, can put our money where our mouth is,” Sandoval said. “When we’re talking about the 2025 budget, you’re going to continue to hear me talk about the need to identify funds to implement neighborhood plans.”

“This is the second neighborhood plan I’ve worked on since being elected,” she continued. “I have had the honor of working on the West Area neighborhood plan. You need money to implement these plans. All they are is a vision document if you don’t have the money to implement them.”

Area plans are developed by the Community Planning and Development department’s Neighborhood Planning Initiative, an effort that leans on significant neighborhood-level input to create 19 area plans covering Denver’s 78 statistical neighborhoods. Resulting plans act as supplements to citywide plans Blueprint Denver and Comprehensive Plan 2040. They are intended to guide the city in its approach to adding or improving city services and resources (e.g., zoning, parks, recreation centers, transportation, business and economic development).

The 238-page Near Northwest Area Plan can be found at

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