First, we’ll state the obvious: the commercial permitting process in Denver continues to be painfully slow (233 days for some commercial projects according to CPD data). In fact, Denver’s auditor team released a detailed review of how the city handles these permits, revealing issues with construction reviews, confusing instructions, and a lack of supervision, leading to inconsistent performance.
As a communications firm that specializes in CRE and sees firsthand some of the challenges the permitting process creates across the real estate ecosystem, we’ve had a number of conversations recently about what levers can be pulled – from expediting certain kinds of permits to simplifying requirements and hiring more people to today’s topic: outsourcing. Could we do it? What would that process look like? What are the pros and cons?
While the potential benefits of cost savings, increased efficiency, and access to specialized expertise may be worth it, as many other cities have found, there’s also often pushback – concerns about transparency, accountability, and public trust must be addressed. But in some cases, communities have seen some significant benefit.
Here’s what we learned:
Throughout his campaign, Mayor Mike Johnston acknowledged the issue. Since taking office, he’s said work is underway to handpick a new director for the city’s Community Planning and Development Department in addition to using money from the 2024 budget to hire three full-time employees who will help review permits, especially for affordable housing projects.
Will those efforts make a meaningful difference? What are the other levers you think the City should consider? We’d love to hear from you!
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