Why we need a Transition Zone between the Historic Eastside and Lower Downtown

Giant, insensitive blocks built right up against delightful, small, historic homes. Blocks that are taller than almost all of the buildings along Main.

No privacy, backyards plunged into shadow, increased parking pressures…

possible scenario Lower Downtown & W Kimbark

This elevation shows what is possible here in Longmont taken to its logical conclusion. (And we’ve been seeing this sort of thing in Denver in the last few years.)

This is what we’ve been facing until recently, in particular on the east side of Kimbark, as it abuts Lower Downtown.

HENA enthusiastically supports a vibrant Downtown, but it does not have to come at this price. Growth between Main and Kimbark can be accommodated in a more stepped down, sensitive way.

There is a win-win strategy for both local businesses and local residents. 


What could win-win solutions look like?

Residents in the Historic Eastside can avoid the incursions of parking, lack of sunlight and privacy. The charm and character of the Eastside– with its own National Historic district–then only serves to reflect back the charm and character of the Lower Downtown, without giant modern blocks between them.

The Lower Downtown could steward a long-term approach that highlights the delights of Main– newly designated with its own historic district–without being surrounded itself by looming, blocky, jarring new builds. It also gets to work with residents to come up with more creative and sustainable solutions that create access for businesses and visitors to Lower Downtown.

There is a mountain of research to show that the return on investment for preserving a strong, distinctive “sense of place” pays off handsomely in terms of not only wellbeing, but also financially–both for businesses and homeowners.

The win-win is a compromise. The name for it is a Transition Zone.

So what exactly is a Transition Zone?

A Transition Zone is a tried and tested way in which new buildings–and development in general, including additional parking–can be accommodated in a stepped down, sensitive way that is a win-win for local businesses and local residents.

Numbers of possible storeys, building heights, opening hours, and deliveries, etc can be “stepped” down from the high-levels needs of Main to the lower-levels appropriate for families living in single-family homes.

HENA has been leading an initiative for many decades to obtain a Transition Zone that benefits both the Historic Eastside and Lower Downtown. We stepped up the campaign in 2017 in the face of a jarring proposal at 420 Kimbark that left so many residents upset and dismayed.

HENA has been working with the Lower Downtown Development Authority (LDDA) and the city council to reach a win-win. Residents have been coming to talk at city council meetings about their concerns and their solutions for over a year now.

We’ve come to some good compromises, but currently, the maximum building height in the transition area is still proposed at 45′. What makes more sense to HENA is making the maximum height 35′.

HENA also believes that the limit for the maximum building height should be for the full lot on the east side of Kimbark.


So what’s next? What can you do?

Right now, we are waiting for the next city council meeting to finalize the details of the Transition Zone between Lower Downtown and the residential area of Kimbark.

We will of course let you know when we get the date.

Update: According to the Longmont Area Realtors they will not pursue their proposed development at this time.  However until reasonable height limits are put into the code all adjacent lots in HENA are potentially in jeopardy. 

In the meantime, pleasewrite/email your city councilors at:


For more details about the concerns and solutions, check out these articles written or informed by local residents:

Longmont Association of Realtors proposed building raises ire of neighbors (9/9/2017)


Opinion: Dido Clark: Downtown Longmont needs a transition zone (8/1/2017)



Patrick and Paula Fitzgerald: Hold off on development of downtown Longmont transition zone (7/11/2017)



Opinion: Mary C. Lin: Longmont building would press on East Side residents’ privacy (5/31/17)


 By Dido Clark