Multiplexes are buildings that are designed to look like single-family homes but contain three to five apartments. Currently, these structures are only allowed in multifamily and mixed-use zones. While multiplexes may seem out of character for established neighborhoods, many have been in existence for decades and are woven into the fabric of more historic residential areas. The city is aware of at least 30 older, pre-1950 multiplexes. However, current indications suggest 200 or more may now exist following more recent conversions of single-family homes. Newer multiplexes in EN zones (see map below) were created without city approval and may not have be built to comply with life-safety codes.
The number of existing multiplexes, both old and new, indicates a strong demand for this type of housing in established neighborhoods. Rather than attempt to shut down these units, the city prefers to provide a pathway towards legalizing existing multiplexes and allowing new multiplex conversions on qualifying properties.
In 2021, community meetings and public surveys were used to gauge neighborhood concerns and support for new and existing multiplexes. While the feedback received was productive, staff discovered that future land use provisions within the Comprehensive Plan as related to density would conflict with new code language permitting multiplexes in all, but in EN-1 zone. This realization has paused the multiplex initiative while staff works to determine if updates to the Comprehensive Plan would be appropriate.
City staff hosted a pubic meeting about multiplexes on July 19, 2021. View the presentation slides (PDF)
View a summary of results from the Multiplexes Survey (PDF)
Multiplexes are currently allowed in Established Neighborhood Multifamily zones (red), Mixed-Use zones (orange and yellow), and the Residential Medium and Residential High Density zones (green).
The pink/purple areas are Established Neighborhood zones where many multiplexes exist but are not allowed by the Land Use and Development Code. The city is considering code amendments that may legalize existing multiplexes in these zones and provide a permitting process for new multiplexes. The city is open to feedback on areas where multiplexes could be permitted beyond what is shown on the map.
Most existing multiplexes in Durango are indistinguishable from single-family homes to the untrained eye. Any new code requirements would ensure design standards for single-family homes apply to new multiplexes in order to prevent issues with context and compatibility for adjacent properties.
The larger structures below are examples of multiplexes that are out of context for our existing neighborhoods and would not be allowed in the city.