Rezoning of office building off Colorado Blvd. faces neighborhood opposition

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Vohn Regensburger poses for a portrait on the rooftop of the Belcaro Place office building, with the Cory-Merrill neighborhood below. (Matt Geiger/BusinessDen)

A thin strip of green space is at the center of pushback on a proposed rezoning just off Colorado Boulevard.

The owners of Belcaro Place, a nine-story office building at 3801 E. Florida Ave., will go before a City Council committee Tuesday in their bid to rezone the 3-acre property. 

Vohn Regensburger, who co-owns and manages the 154,000-square-foot building in the Cory-Merrill neighborhood, told BusinessDen the rezoning is not a harbinger of change. The structure is nearly fully leased, and staying put, he said. 

Instead, Regensburger said, the effort is intended to bring the property under the city’s current zoning code. Denver updated its zoning in 2010, and the property is zoned under the previous code.

“(The rezoning is) to match the city’s desires – that’s it,” he said.

Some of the building’s neighbors, however, are concerned about a strip of green space on the property’s western edge, along Jackson Street. About 30 feet wide, it’s dotted with trees and grass, and includes a drainage ditch. The area separates a residential neighborhood from the office building and, more generally, the busy commercial properties of Colorado Boulevard.

“The proposed rezoning would remove green space and fundamentally change the look and feel of the neighborhood,” resident Noah Fields wrote to the city in opposition. 

Others are also concerned about traffic should more development take place on site. 

“Not only will this eliminate the green space, sunlight, and a place for families to enjoy/play – it will dramatically increase unsafe neighborhood traffic, air pollution, and noise at all hours of the day & night,” resident Ben Minnick wrote to the city.

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The owners of Belcaro Place also own this green space to the west of the structure, which neighbors want to see remain. (Matt Geiger/BusinessDen)

City documents show one letter of support for the rezoning from the East Evans Business Association and 13 letters of opposition from neighbors, although one neighbor claimed at a planning board meeting in May that he had 40 resident signatures in opposition. The Cory-Merrill neighborhood organization has not taken a position.

Currently, the property has two zonings, according to city documents. The building and parking behind it have their own designation, and the grassy strip to the west has a separate one. Under the proposed rezoning, the entire site would be rezoned S-MX-5, a suburban zoning generally allowing five-story buildings with a variety of commercial and residential usages.

Regensburger told BusinessDen that he has no plans to redevelop the property, including the green space. He said he intentionally chose the rezoning option with the lowest density, and that it is already technically possible for the current owners to build on the green space even with its outdated zoning. 

Regensburger said his primary interest is in preserving the existing building and keeping a high resale value. Belcaro Place has just one vacancy and Regensburger has his own office on the fifth floor. He said he’s put “millions and millions” into the property, including $2 million for a new HVAC system to bring the building up to modern energy standards.

“We don’t want anything to happen to this building because it has a ton of life going forward,” he said.

However, at a May Planning Board meeting, Regensburger’s architect David Budrow said “our thinking” was that an apartment complex could fit nicely on the building’s parking lot, although he was clear that he’d like the green space to remain if it were built.

The Planning Board voted unanimously to forward the rezoning application to the City Council. But one member issued a warning to the building’s owners.

“I wouldn’t want to be going before council with this many neighbors upset with me. I’d rather engage with them and figure out an agreement,” said Fred Glick, vice chair of the board.

Regensburger said he held a town hall meeting with neighbors last week, with “heartfelt” discussion on both sides. He added he has also been knocking on doors and talking with nearby residents. 

The 63-year-old has lived in the metro area for most of his life, and spent the majority of his career managing buildings for the late Vincent A. Rieger and his son Vincent G. Rieger. The elder Rieger built the Wellshire Arms apartment building in 1962 at 2499 S. Colorado Blvd. and the Colorado Club office building a decade later at 4155 E. Jewell Ave. Regensburger has been managing Belcaro Place for seven years since he and Rieger purchased it in 2017 for $20 million. 

IMG 5535 scaled

Vohn Regensburger poses for a portrait on the rooftop of the Belcaro Place office building, with the Cory-Merrill neighborhood below. (Matt Geiger/BusinessDen)

A thin strip of green space is at the center of pushback on a proposed rezoning just off Colorado Boulevard.

The owners of Belcaro Place, a nine-story office building at 3801 E. Florida Ave., will go before a City Council committee Tuesday in their bid to rezone the 3-acre property. 

Vohn Regensburger, who co-owns and manages the 154,000-square-foot building in the Cory-Merrill neighborhood, told BusinessDen the rezoning is not a harbinger of change. The structure is nearly fully leased, and staying put, he said. 

Instead, Regensburger said, the effort is intended to bring the property under the city’s current zoning code. Denver updated its zoning in 2010, and the property is zoned under the previous code.

“(The rezoning is) to match the city’s desires – that’s it,” he said.

Some of the building’s neighbors, however, are concerned about a strip of green space on the property’s western edge, along Jackson Street. About 30 feet wide, it’s dotted with trees and grass, and includes a drainage ditch. The area separates a residential neighborhood from the office building and, more generally, the busy commercial properties of Colorado Boulevard.

“The proposed rezoning would remove green space and fundamentally change the look and feel of the neighborhood,” resident Noah Fields wrote to the city in opposition. 

Others are also concerned about traffic should more development take place on site. 

“Not only will this eliminate the green space, sunlight, and a place for families to enjoy/play – it will dramatically increase unsafe neighborhood traffic, air pollution, and noise at all hours of the day & night,” resident Ben Minnick wrote to the city.

IMG 5536 scaled

The owners of Belcaro Place also own this green space to the west of the structure, which neighbors want to see remain. (Matt Geiger/BusinessDen)

City documents show one letter of support for the rezoning from the East Evans Business Association and 13 letters of opposition from neighbors, although one neighbor claimed at a planning board meeting in May that he had 40 resident signatures in opposition. The Cory-Merrill neighborhood organization has not taken a position.

Currently, the property has two zonings, according to city documents. The building and parking behind it have their own designation, and the grassy strip to the west has a separate one. Under the proposed rezoning, the entire site would be rezoned S-MX-5, a suburban zoning generally allowing five-story buildings with a variety of commercial and residential usages.

Regensburger told BusinessDen that he has no plans to redevelop the property, including the green space. He said he intentionally chose the rezoning option with the lowest density, and that it is already technically possible for the current owners to build on the green space even with its outdated zoning. 

Regensburger said his primary interest is in preserving the existing building and keeping a high resale value. Belcaro Place has just one vacancy and Regensburger has his own office on the fifth floor. He said he’s put “millions and millions” into the property, including $2 million for a new HVAC system to bring the building up to modern energy standards.

“We don’t want anything to happen to this building because it has a ton of life going forward,” he said.

However, at a May Planning Board meeting, Regensburger’s architect David Budrow said “our thinking” was that an apartment complex could fit nicely on the building’s parking lot, although he was clear that he’d like the green space to remain if it were built.

The Planning Board voted unanimously to forward the rezoning application to the City Council. But one member issued a warning to the building’s owners.

“I wouldn’t want to be going before council with this many neighbors upset with me. I’d rather engage with them and figure out an agreement,” said Fred Glick, vice chair of the board.

Regensburger said he held a town hall meeting with neighbors last week, with “heartfelt” discussion on both sides. He added he has also been knocking on doors and talking with nearby residents. 

The 63-year-old has lived in the metro area for most of his life, and spent the majority of his career managing buildings for the late Vincent A. Rieger and his son Vincent G. Rieger. The elder Rieger built the Wellshire Arms apartment building in 1962 at 2499 S. Colorado Blvd. and the Colorado Club office building a decade later at 4155 E. Jewell Ave. Regensburger has been managing Belcaro Place for seven years since he and Rieger purchased it in 2017 for $20 million. 

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