Highpointe development a low point for besieged neighborhood

On paper, the redevelopment of the old Marriott at Hampden and I-25 looks like a dream deal for southeast Denver, complete with luxury apartments boasting "curated amenities" and a "lazy river" winding through the place. But Holly Ridge residents say that the project has been a nightmare for the neighborhood, involving months of traffic, debris and disruption, repeated violations of noise and safety codes, sewer backups, street and property damage -- and an anemic response from city officials to their complaints.

"I live right across the street from it," says Greta Durr, president of the Holly Ridge Neighborhood Organization. "Laws aren't being enforced, and the properties are being developed in a high-density way that's having a lot of impact on this neighborhood."

Highpointe consists of three separate construction projects, slated for completion sometime next year. They include Veranda Highpointe, a 362-unit luxury apartment complex with spa, pool, bocce ball court, rooftop lounge and studios starting at $1,000 a month; Highpointe Assisted Living and Memory Care, a four-story retirement home; and the Shoppes at Highpointe, ye olde (but brande newe) strip of restaurants and retail.

highpointe.sprinkler.285x380.jpg
Truck running over a sprinkler system.
Neighbors say they were prepared for some construction-related hassles. But they didn't expect the blocks around the development to become a de facto staging area, apparently because of a lack of parking for trucks and equipment on the intensely developed site. The most common complaints have to do with trucks failing to take the designated route into the site, rumbling through residential streets at odd hours, blocking driveways and sidewalks, or damaging landscaping and sprinklers as they attempt to turn around.

Residents have also complained of sagging or broken fences, trash blowing into their yards, mud-clogged storm drains and unpleasant encounters with trespassing construction workers using their yards as cafeterias and lavatories. Durr says when she went to the construction company rep about workers leaving trash in her yard, "I was told, 'They're not hurting anything. Why don't you give them a trash can?' Well, I've found human feces on my property, so I don't think they're going to use a trash can."

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Nieghbors say broken fences have allowed trash to migrate offsite.
The neighborhood may be getting dumped on in more ways than one. According to the city's assessment, the property value of Durr's house, which she moved into in 2010, has declined significantly in the last year -- in part, she suspects, because of infrastructure problems caused by the construction. The site was flooded last November after a fire hydrant was broken, and some residents believe the area is still suffering a lack of water pressure and other issues as a result. Two of Durr's neighbors experienced sewer backups in May after heavy truck traffic on South Holly Place caused a break in the line; the street was closed briefly, and one of the construction companies paid for repairs to one sewer line.

Continue for more about the Highpointe development, including photos.



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12 comments
Greta Durr
Greta Durr

We're incredibly grateful for Alan's story. This battle has raged on for more than two years. Holly Ridge neighbors have tried to work through proper channels to get enforcement of the city's few laws and provisions in place to protect us from total chaos at the hands of developers and construction companies, but have gotten little more than lip service in return. When I asked Councilwoman Lehmann why she doesn't use her office to change the laws if she and the City of Denver find them unworthy of enforcement, she had no response.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

1.  Denver needs to amend the City Charter to make municipal elections coincide with general elections; this will save money, but far more importantly, significantly increase the number of people voting to elect representatives to municipal office.

2.  Denver needs to wake up.  It's hard to find out what the idiots presently in charge are doing with a media as flaccid in the investigation (or, in the case of the supposed flagship newspaper in the State, suppressive) of local news, but Westword is a source.  Going to a City Council meeting or two will rapidly impress the critical viewer with the self and mutually congratulatory, incestuous nature of the relationship that exists between the Mayor and Council on the one hand, and the rest of the City's employees.  It is absolutely certain that were a real problem ever to be identified with the way Denver has conducted or does conduct its business, this litany of mutual praise would have to be interrupted, but everyone involved is brimming over with admiration for themselves and each other.

P.S.  Other than our make-believe daily, Colorado Public Radio merits special attention as as institution suppressing engagement with Denver's real problems -- to hear them tell it, we are (mostly) on an ascendant course, day-by-day, in almost every way, getting better and better.  CPR's primary message:  Colorado's problems are either behind us, or are being appropriately addressed.  I was struck by a recent interview on the subject of a book about water in Colorado -- the author went out of his way to confirm that, yes, Denver Water is encouraging conservation appropriately.  Since I live in apartments still sporting water-wasting toilets, and I have been advocating granular, progressively escalating water rates based on per-person conservation standards, I was dismayed to hear this assertion made; Denver Water may be charging some differential based on volume (but not based on the number of water users), but since it does not actually disclose what its rates are on its website, I could not readily verify even that claim.  I invite readers to visit http://www.denverwater.org/BillingRates/RatesCharges/2013Rates/ and try to discover what water costs in Denver or its suburbs -- all Denver Water apparently wants to disclose are its average water bill, and this year's rate increases.  Since long-term drought and rapidly increasing demand already are straining the system, we should anticipate the need for establishing per-person conservation goals and basing rates on them -- such a system could raise revenue for water recycling and other projects while still permitting the wealthy to maintain bluegrass lawns, an instance of where the use of market forces could both fund capital investment in the system, and dispense with the need for officious, arbitrary strictures on how and when people may water -- simply progressively sock it to those who water freely, and reward those who try to conserve.  The pretense we are conserving water responsibly is contemptible.  We can easily foresee a crisis not too far down the road in providing water at all, but the fact that Denver Water just had to warn customers that one out of seven customers have excessive lead in tap water might be worthy of public consideration, and mitigation of the problem, public investment.  Denver Water's solution proposed in the advisory it was compelled by Federal law to provide to customers:  let the water run a while before drinking.

concerned-in-denver
concerned-in-denver

peggy lehmann is about as worthless a councilperson as can be found.  She's willing to go to bat only for companies and their dollars and not for the folks in her district.  She is also willing to sell one of our parks off to the city - something incredibly outrageous.

I sincerely feel for the good folks of the Holly Ridge neighborhood - whenever there are pigheaded employees on a job who don't care about anything other than themselves, they're more than happy to trash, piss and crap all over the neighborhood and don't give a damn.  Same thing happened to me when my street had water work done; the city and Denver Water contracted CASI to do the asphalt repairs and I had their employees pissing in my yard - in front of me.  Denver Police, Denver Water, City Council and CASI didn't do a damned thing...other than some jackass from CASI confront and insult me in my own yard.

While I don't mind development in Denver, these contractors and their employees have got to be controlled and expected to follow behavior that respects the areas surrounding their work areas.  Should ANY damage be done, they should be fined to the max and be prepared to monetarily fix the folks who are bearing the cost of the development with their personal lives. And shame on peggy and the rest of Denver City idiots who refuse to help the taxpaying homeowners.

greta.durr
greta.durr

Denver taxpayers: Denver City Council recently voted to give themselves another pay raise. We pay Lehmann and our other city council members nearly $100k per year with about one third more in benefits. What are we getting in return? Developers, most of them from out of state, are vandalizing our neighborhoods while Lehmann and her cohorts make secret land deals at our expense, and plan to bulldoze our parks. Turks are fighting and dying in their streets over what we're willing to tolerate with abject complacency. If the president pro tem of the Denver City Council lacks the power to compel developers and a construction company to obey local laws and ordinances governing their business practices, who does? This story isn't about one neighborhood, it foreshadows the future of our city if we don't get off our asses and take a stand.

sblumberg
sblumberg

Amen to the sentiments of dnzh.

As a resident of Holly Ridge, I drive south on Locust Street from Eastman Ave to Hampden Blvd on a daily basis.

Once upon a time, it was a lovely drive past well-cared for homes that are nicely landscaped. Nowadays, both sides of the street are lined with pick-up trucks and construction vehicles. It looks like a party is going on.

Unfortunately, the party is at the developer's house, probably in a gated community.

Given the failure of our elected officials, police, noise enforcement agency, and others who are responsible for enforcing codes & ordinances, perhaps Holly Ridge ought to become a gated community and restrict access to construction worker's personal vehicles and construction vehicles.

Perhaps Catamount Construction can make parking arrangements for its employees with the huge and vastly under-utilized parking lot that is contiguous to Regal Cinemas, Chili's Restaurant, and the Marriot Residences.

Of course, none of this would address the corrupt & fast-track crony capitalist process that conceived the development project in the first place, without any regard for the quality of life concerns that Holly Ridge community might have.

This "Un-holy Holly Ridge" situation cries out for reparations.

At the very least, this development needs to be hit hard in their wallet.

Given that our politicians, police, and other enforcement bodies have failed us, our community can't simply wait and pray for a Clint Eastwood-like character to trot into town on his horse and singlehandedly defeat the bully developers.

Our community needs to grow some balls and kick some ass, lawfully of course. We need our own hired guns, to take the developers down in the civil courts of law. If they have been corrupt, action must take place in the criminal courts of law as well.

dnzh
dnzh

It saddens me to watch my friends struggle through this period of time in which they should be enjoying the homes and properties that they work so hard to maintain. This article was illuminating as far as the realities of how easily the rules can be overlooked for the right price, or convenience. Shame on the elected officials, shame on the developers.  Being a good neighbor is clearly not a priority here...May it affect their precious bottom line someday soon.

davebarnes
davebarnes topcommenter

The residents should be pounding on

"Peggy Lehmann,Council District 4
My staff includes two well qualified aides: Diane Young and Lori Grohskopf.
(720)337-4444
peggy.lehmann@denvergov.org"

alanprend
alanprend

One correction to the above:

Ms. Durr informs me that it was a Denver Police community resource officer, not a representative of the construction company, who suggested that she should deal with workers leaving trash in her yard by providing them with a trash can.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@Greta Durr Not to demean your concerns in any way, but your experience is just the very tip of an enormous iceberg of indifference and incompetence.

concerned-in-denver
concerned-in-denver

@davebarnes Contacting peggy doesn't do a damned thing - she's on the side of the monied interests, the developers and their dollars.

greta.durr
greta.durr

@RobertChase  I didn't know where to start, so I began with my own community. Maybe we can all irrigate when the fires started by a hundred stories like this one finally melt that iceberg. Lettuce prey.


greta.durr
greta.durr

@concerned-in-denver@davebarnes

@concerned-in-denver @davebarnes  Dave is absolutely correct and I have more than 500 emails I've exchanged with the Councilwoman's office in less than one year alone to prove it. 

The Holly Ridge Neighborhood Organization has been in close and consistent contact with Councilwoman Lehmann's office, Denver Police District 3, Denver 311, various city inspectors and agencies for the past two years or more. 

Lehmann even hired a professional mediator to reel us in at the one meeting about this development that she allowed us to attend back in May. 

Lehmann has repeatedly asked us to work directly with the Catamount Constructors on serious health and safety problems in Holly Ridge that relate directly to Denver's failure to enforce its own laws and ordinances. 

Neighbors tell me that as a result of their efforts to work with Catamount, they've been threatened, hung up upon and ignored. More than a few of us are fearful of retaliation.And with good reason. 

I pulled a huge construction screw out of my tire on May 23 and on April 9, I was assaulted by one of Catamount's traffic flaggers when I removed his gear from my property where it was clearly destroying one of my bushes. (I wasn't hurt, but the worker did grab and yank my arm as I threw his signs, backpack and trash into the street. Not only was he trespassing, but he had crushed some of my tulips and broken branches on my shrubbery.)

Our latest assigned contact at Catamount, the second in the past year  that I know of,  is no longer on the project and neither Catamount, the developers nor Lehmann have responded to our ongoing complaints, or our boycott announcement.

It would seem the city is too busy scheming shady development deals, such as the one Lehmann spearheaded with DPS to bulldoze Hentzell Park, to care much about about the plight of the "little people" in this district who elected her.

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