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In the near future, the largest undeveloped property in Wheat Ridge will be developed into retail, entertainment, hotel, residential and privately owned open space.
The development project known as Clear Creek Crossing is located at the southwest quadrant of Highway 58 and I-70 — roughly, just west of I-70 between approximately 34th Avenue and Clear Creek in Wheat Ridge.
Wheat Ridge City Council's eight members unanimously approved the rezoning of the 109-acre area from planned commercial development to planned mixed use development on March 26.
“That piece of property has been sitting there for quite a while,” said Pam Bales, the West Chamber of Commerce's president and CEO. “They're doing a good job with it by making it mixed use.”
The West Chamber does not get involved with the local politics of decisions but does support the cities with their business-commerce endeavors, Bales said.
“Mixed use is the way to go because you're addressing all the needs,” she said.
The development will generate tax revenue for the city, and address Wheat Ridge's growth needs by including residential in the development, Bales added.
The idea was to reinvent it and create community connectivity, said Tyler Carlson, the Denver office's manager of Evergreen Devco, Inc., the real estate and development firm in charge of the project.
The acreage has been divided into eight planning areas, each with their own list of permitted uses. Furthermore, the property is planned to be developed into five districts.
They are: Mill — employment/corporate campus-type uses such as office, research and development, hospital and university/education; Vineyard — retail and entertainment uses including stores, shop buildings, banks, restaurants, theater and gaming; Homestead — multifamily residential uses including apartments and/or townhomes; Harvest — large-format retail with accessory small retail, restaurants and hotel uses; and Wagon — multi-use trail and sidewalk networks that connect to all other districts and off-site trails including Clear Creek Trail, Applewood Golf Course and adjacent neighborhood.
Lutheran Medical Center is proposed to occupy a 25-acre parcel of the property.
“Lutheran will undertake a thorough evaluation of the healthcare needs of the community as we determine the scope and design of a future healthcare facility,” said Sarah Ellis, the communications manager and Lutheran Medical Center regional public information officer for SCL Health, in an emailed statement. “Along with our partners, we plan to conduct an ongoing dialogue and focus groups with the surrounding communities to help direct our future plan for this property and for our current property as we determine what services will be provided in the future.”
The property was annexed into the city in 2005 and in August 2006, city council approved a rezoning of the site for Cabela's to build a 185,000 square foot store. In 2011, the property was rezoned a second time to accommodate a somewhat smaller Cabela's store and a 177,000-square foot Super Walmart. However, a Cabela's corporate decision led to the 2013 opening of two stores located along the I-25 corridor at the north and south ends of the Denver metropolitan area. Walmart continued to be a part of the proposed Clear Creek Crossing project, but in the summer of 2017, Walmart made the decision not to build in this location.
Cabela's and Walmart would have created a “retail monster” on the site, Carlson said. Evergreen's overarching goal for it, he said, is for Clear Creek Crossing to be “a place where community can gather.”
On Jan. 18, the Wheat Ridge Planning Commission voted 5-1 to recommend approval of the project, with two conditions. The conditions were that maximum residential height be 65 feet in Planning Area 1, and that at least 50 percent of the proposed total square footage at the ground floor level shall contain nonresidential uses across all planning areas.
The developer has been good about hosting community meetings and focus groups to keep everyone informed on the project, said Edna Miklos, a small-business owner and member of the Applewood Business Association since 1985.
“They did that to get some idea on what the neighborhood wants, as well as needs,” she said. “I think the final plan they have will benefit the neighborhood.”
Van Wedgwood, a board member of the Applewood Business Association and the association's membership chair, agreed.
“We're actually very excited about it,” he said. The development will “add some depth that hasn't been there before.”
However, one concern is maintaining the association's members' place in the marketplace, Wedgwood said.
“As the marketplace expands,” he said, “we want to make sure our membership is well-positioned.”
Wheat Ridge Mayor Pro Tem George Pond pointed out there will still be some concerns that will arise and the city will pay close attention to them. These include traffic, some of the development's uses and beds at the hospital.
Still, it's impressive how the developer has listened to and taken into consideration the citizens' concerns thus far, said Councilor Tim Fitzgerald.
“All in all,” he said, “this is a very good project.”
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