By Makenzie O’Keefe

DENVER (CBS4) – Denver City Council members approved a measure that will allow developers to build taller buildings in the RiNo neighborhood in exchange for affordable housing.

(credit: CBS)

The decision, which was made late Monday night, allows developers to build up to 16 stories in certain parts of the River North neighborhood.

Council President Albus Brooks said the issues surrounding the measure have been a concern in the community for nearly two years.

The goal of the change is to bring affordable housing to the popular Denver neighborhood, which is near 38th Street and A Line commuter rail station.

For developers, there are three options if they wish to build high rises. They can build a certain number of affordable units in their building, or include commercial developments in their projects such as a day care or a grocery store. The last option is to pay an affordable housing fee that is much higher than that of developments in other parts of the city.

“Restricting height actually adds demand and makes it more expensive and adds gentrification,” explained Council President Albus Brooks. “Actually when you increase supply that’s when you bring down cost.”

Residents in the zoning district are concerned about what development would mean for property value, and if this would force people out of their homes in the long haul. Some also voiced concerns that this measure doesn’t do enough to address the need for affordable housing.

“As a homeowner and someone who lives in the community and is facing rising taxes and struggling with this — it’s a big problem,” one resident told Denver City Council. “And allowing developers to come in here and build more is like handing weights to people who are drowning.”

This is the first time Denver has changed zoning codes based solely on affordability.

The measure is now heading to Mayor Michael Hancock’s desk to be signed.

Makenzie O’Keefe joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2017. Read her bio, follow her on Twitter at @makenziepokeefe or email her your story ideas.