New Zoning Code for City of Arvada

EVstudio continues to have projects in Arvada, Colorado, a city right in the backyard of our office in northwest Denver that released a brand new zoning code and design standard in May of this year. Developers are interested in the increased allowable density, making development in Arvada attractive at this time, and we have been contracted to explore site feasibility on several properties throughout the city. Arvada is a hot housing real estate market as one of the next relatively affordable areas in the front range outside of Denver. The revitalization of Olde Town and other city improvements make it an increasingly attractive place to live. For data regarding growth and livability in Arvada:

Zoning codes define allowable density and how specific properties may be used. This allows a city to manage how neighborhoods within their boundary grow and change. They also outline minimum lot sizes for various use types, height restrictions, parking requirements, setbacks, and other requirements as deemed appropriate by the jurisdiction. Form-based zoning codes may include design standards that indicate the quality and character that is desired in certain areas of the city or by building type. Design standards may also define allowable materials, required changes in plane, and desired level of detail on a building façade.

Zoning codes may be changed or rewritten for a variety of reasons. Changing zoning can encourage or control growth and designate certain areas for increased density. It can fix discrepancies between parking requirements and actual need. Many cities will update their zoning codes to encourage development, especially mixed-use, and modernize street standards to improve walkability as well as viability of multi-model transportation. Adding bike lanes or on-street parking to street standards are examples of this. More localized urban centers and improved transportation options are some of the ways in which a city may attempt to decrease vehicular travel and manage emissions.

From Arvada’s Standard Drawings Traffic (PDF):

Additionally, cities seek to manage their stormwater and improve utilities and infrastructure through required improvement with new development. Many jurisdictions will expect developers to improve the frontage of the lot being developed to the current right-of-way standard. This allows cities to improve their infrastructure and the pedestrian experience one lot at a time at the developer’s expense. (Some city incentives may exist; contact the local planning and zoning department for potential incentives in specific areas.)


The City of Arvada, Colorado issued a new Land Development Code on May 18th of 2020. The Arvada LDC incorporates planning and zoning requirements with form-based design standards. Similar to the incentives outlined above, one goal of this updated code is to increase density in specific areas, improve walkability and multi-modal transportation, and encourage mixed-use development where appropriate. Specific standards are also identified for overlay districts along corridors and within Olde Town. Additionally, areas of Arvada have insufficient or outdated stormwater management, right-of-way, and public utilities. Through development, the city will be able to improve its infrastructure over time.

The new Arvada LDC also includes progressive housing typologies to encourage a greater diversity of housing and consideration for smaller homes that may be more economically accessible as well as smaller/lower-maintenance homes that appeal to millennials and older folks alike. This code incorporates building forms like the Multiplex (buildings designed to resemble a single-family home while accommodating up to six units) and Cottages or Micro Homes that may be combined into ‘Clustered Housing’ community developments.

Zoning Code
Allowable building forms in R24 zone, Arvada LDC:
Design standard for Townhome building form:

EVstudio is actively working with local developers to assess development viability and navigate Arvada’s new codes. Reach out with any of your site planning or design needs!


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