Abigail Acevedo’s phone rang in February, delivering exciting news: Blocky modular units that soon would be assembled to form five townhouses — including one for her — had just been delivered to a parking lot in northeast Denver.
“I drove by just to see them, even though they weren’t ready,” said Acevedo, 28, who works as a patient access supervisor at a health clinic and has feared she might be priced out of the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood, where she’s lived for two decades. “It was amazing seeing them, just knowing that in some months, I would be able to call one of those home.”
But eight months later, Acevedo still hasn’t moved in, and the disassembled townhome units are collecting graffiti on their plastic wraps. Though the affordable housing project has seen recent movement, it was among thousands of new buildings and renovations caught in an expanding web of delays at short-staffed development review and permit offices.
Denver’s efforts to build much-needed housing, and even its residents’ attempts to make their homes more appealing, are running into delays that can last several months as the city struggles to overcome the backlogs. Development reviews for larger projects drag on for the better part of a year, pushing costs higher, while a straight-forward plan to build a new house now takes nearly 15 weeks on average to get through its first review — almost four times as long as it should under Denver’s targets.
While applicants wait, city officials say it will be months before they’re able to get a handle on the latest development trends, including a surge of residential projects that began during the pandemic.
A three-month investigation by The Denver Post found that some causes stem from self-inflicted wounds, the result of citywide pandemic budget cuts and a hiring freeze in 2020. At the time, a severe recession appeared imminent and city leaders acted quickly to reduce expenses. But they were slow to reverse cuts as city revenues — and income from permit fees — rebounded in 2021, leaving the hiring freeze in place for nearly 18 months.
— Full story via Jon Murray, The Denver Post
Special report: Denver’s big permit backlogs delay construction, increase costs amid housing shortage
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