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DENVER-The city recently released a 46-page draft to overhaul the city’s development process, which is considered slower and more costly than many of its suburban counterparts. Mayor John Hickenlooper notes that “time is money for developers.” Delays in Denver add 3% to 5% to the cost of the development, according to the report.

“This is a good start,” John Huggins, the city’s economic development director, tells GlobeSt.com. “But we still have a long way to go. We wanted to get this out in the public to seek comment on what people think and how we can improve it.”

The Mayor’s Office, City Attorney’s Office, Community Planning and Development Department, the Office of Economic Development, Parks and Recreation Department and the Public Works Development prepared the Development Council.

Some of the keystones of reform, according to the report, include: providing predictable time frames and results to all parties interested in development; city staff accountability for meeting established time frames and for resolving inter-departmental disagreements expeditiously; flexibility to accommodate large, complex projects as well as smaller, simpler projects, and accords each project type an appropriate level of review; efficiency of review process; and the inclusion of all city departments and agencies in the development process.

“There is often a mismatch between the vision and aspirations set out in BluePrint Denver [the broad, overall development roadmap for the city] and the city’s zoning and regulatory regime,” the report states. “The city’s organizational structure creates ‘silos’ of responsibility for various aspects of a project, but no person or agency is responsible for the overall approval or quality of a project.”

The report also notes that the city’s development review processes “do not closely match or align with the phases of the private sector’s development and design process.” The report goes on to conclude that “there is no way to track a project through the multi-department process, and no person or agency is responsible for the overall approval of a project.”

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