Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

City Council approves Asbury Court development for DU neighborhood

A 20-unit housing development that neighborhood groups have wrangled over for more than two years won final city approval March 27 despite opponents’ eleventh-hour bid to throttle the plan.

The unanimous approval by Denver City Council gives developer and printing magnate Barry Hirschfeld (MBA ’66) and son Hayden Hirschfeld the green light on Asbury Court, a three-quarter-acre project along Asbury Avenue east of Downing Street to Marion. The site is behind a Walgreen’s Drugstore on East Evans Avenue and will replace six 1940s-era frame houses with 17 townhouses and three single-family homes.

“The developer has bent over backwards to do everything the neighbors have asked for,” resident Velma Boe told City Council. “It’s time to get this show on the road and shovel some dirt.”

Not all neighbors were as eager. David Carroll, whose home on Asbury Avenue will be overshadowed by the project, said the plan “grotesquely violates the intrinsic character of the neighborhood.”

“It’ll look like a behemoth on steroids,” he told the council.

Opponents, including Carroll, had submitted a protest petition aimed at making City Council’s approval of Asbury Court more difficult. The petition failed when city officials invalidated four names, leaving the appeal four signatories short.

Carroll insisted that petitioners had “essentially complied with the law,” but his argument was unsuccessful. Instead, he maintained that replacing the single-family homes with multiple units that were taller and less set back from the street would unfairly change the character of the neighborhood.

Supporters countered that the project was appropriate as a transition to single-family homes from the commercial row along East Evans Avenue. They further argued that Asbury Court, while a modern design, was a well-landscaped “green” project, appropriate for families and safe for children attending nearby Asbury Elementary.

What appeared to persuade council members was the Hirschfelds’ responsiveness to neighborhood groups. Over several years and more than 40 public meetings, neighborhood groups had negotiated the project down from 32 units to 20, eliminated plans for retail space and won concessions on setbacks, parking and landscaping.

“I’d like a developer like you developing in my district,” District 4 Councilwoman Peggy Lehmann quipped.

District 7 Councilwoman Kathleen MacKenzie praised the project as a “great development” that was “respectful and responsive” to the community.

“Hayden Hirschfeld could be a role model for developers,” she said. “Maybe he should start a school.”

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