Plumbing firm looks to expand at edge of West Highland, Sloan’s Lake

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Applewood Plumbing Heating & Electric hope to rezone this property at 5005 W. 29th Ave. (Maia Luem)

A plumbing company wants to expand its operations on the border between West Highland and Sloan’s Lake, although some neighbors have turned out against the company’s rezoning bid.

Applewood Plumbing Heating & Electric currently operates in 7,000 square feet at 5000 W. 29th Ave. The 50-year-old company, owned by John Ward, services Denver, Boulder and surrounding areas, according to its website.

In 2019, records show, the company paid $1.7 million for the property across the street at 5005 W. 29th Ave., formerly home to an auto body shop.

Applewood has been using its new lot for parking, but wants to build a new structure there, according to documents submitted as part of a bid to rezone the 5005 lot.

“Our current plan would be to build a new three story building for Applewood’s use,” Applewood President Josh Ward told a neighbor in an email included in the company’s rezoning application. “The street level would be a parking garage that would allow for more parking than we have on the existing lot.”

John and Josh Ward, who are father and son, didn’t respond to requests for comment from BusinessDen.

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Applewood operates across the street from the lot it hopes to get rezoned. (Maia Luem)

The one-story building on the 5005 lot has PUD-83 zoning exclusively established for the auto body shop, meaning that’s the only type of business that can currently operate there, senior city planner Robert Haigh told Denver’s Planning Board last week. 

“The current zoning is so specific, it exactly describes what’s there,” Haigh said. “It has to be a transmission location, in the same footprint, it can’t change or be anything else.” 

Applewood is requesting the zoning be changed to U-MX-3, which allows for mixed-use buildings with a maximum of three stories.

Six neighbors spoke against the rezoning at the Planning Board meeting. Several said they support Applewood but feel it’s too large of a company to expand in a residential area. Most said they would be more comfortable if a new building was two stories instead of three. 

The city also received two letters opposing the rezoning, and one letter of support from the neighborhood organization Strong Denver.

The Planning Board voted unanimously to send the measure to the Denver City Council, where a committee will consider it March 21 before an expected vote by the full body on May 1.

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