ADUs In the Historic Baker Neighborhood

Photo attribution: https://www.denvergov.org/Government/Agencies-Departments-Offices/Agencies-Departments-Offices-Directory/Community-Planning-and-Development

On a sunny afternoon in September, a friend and I decided to tour the Historic Baker Neighborhood, something we had previously enjoyed.

One of the advantages of being a member of UpDoNA is that you’re made aware of happenings in the city and many opportunities that otherwise might have been missed. For those unfamiliar with the Baker Neighborhood, it is considered by many to be one of the best places to live in Denver. Tucked into the inner southwest corner of the city is a setting that offers residents a suburban feel within an urban setting. The tree lined streets replete with many large Victorian homes and well-manicured lawns has traditionally been a middle-class neighborhood.

The location, offering restaurants, coffee shops, and parks, was annexed by Denver in 1883.

Over one hundred years later, the historic designation was granted in 2000.  Among the criteria included many popular homes featuring architectural styles such as Victorian and Italianate, some designed by prominent architects of the time. The population of the late nineteenth century had a newspaper editor, railroad and mining executives, and some prominent literary figures. Today Baker boasts a diverse population and features characteristics including preserved historic homes, a small commercial district, and access to public transportation and proximity to the restaurant scene on Broadway.

For our tour, we were expecting more of the same but what we actually got was something quite different. Instead of viewing the stately Victorians we had a tour of the Neighborhood ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units). Unfamiliar with the concept of ADUs, we were in for an education.  ADUs have existed in Denver since the early days, and the best example is a Carriage house of Manor home, detached from it and yet part of it. With the recent economic downturn, the city decided to protect homeowners from the potential loss of their homes. Thus, they created the ADU, which gives them a way to earn extra income from these homes themselves. The ADU is built from existing space in the home, usually the garage. It cannot be more than 25% of the house’s total square footage but can go up to one-and-a-half stories. Each ADU must include a kitchen with modern appliances, a washer and dryer, one bedroom with minimal closet space, and, of course, a bathroom. The egress of the home is private and cannot be entered via the main house. Usually, they are built abutting an alley for cars to enter and leave. Today the ADU can be called in-law apartments for extra rooms for family and guests.

They can also be rented out even be advertised on AIRBNB both long and short-term. They can never be sold separately but must remain with the house as an attached or detached structure. Currently, in Denver, there’s a cottage industry of architects and contractors who specialize in the building of these special structures. The city of Denver periodically advertises programs that will highlight neighborhoods where ADUs are being showcased as well as plans for construction.  As a member of the UpDoNA Board, I can say with great certainty that we are notified of the city presentations and make the knowledge of these events available to our entire membership. If anyone is curious or has concerns about ADUs, they are given the

information about how their concerns can be addressed. Becoming a member of UpDoNA provides so many opportunities like this and membership many other happenings in the city.  If you want to know more, visit our website at UpDoNA.org

At the end of the day, we didn’t see our expected delightful elegant Victorian homes, but we ended up well-versed in ADUs and very supportive of them being built in select Denver Neighborhoods.  Our day in the Baker Neighborhood was a very pleasant and newly illuminating experience, indeed.


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