Forest City hopes to build enough in the first phase of the Central Park transit oriented-development (TOD) to create a “sense of place,” according to Jim Chrisman, Forest City senior vice president. In a July 18 presentation to Stapleton United Neighbors, Chrisman listed projects that he hopes get underway starting in the first quarter of 2018: a 190,000-square-foot AA office building, a 300-unit apartment, the first phase of D.H. Friedman’s condominium development (110 units), a half-dozen condominium townhomes, two free-standing retail buildings (12,000 sq. ft.) and a 30,000-square-foot Sprouts grocery store.
A makeover of Uinta St. in the block immediately south of the Central Park RTD station (the 3600 block) is also deemed essential to making the TOD a place people and businesses want to be. Forest City proposes to narrow the traffic lanes and add urban design features to create the Uinta St. public plaza (shown at right with tan diagonal lines). Chris Nevitt, Denver’s TOD manager, says he is confident Denver “will be able to arrive at a configuration for Uinta St. that realizes the highly activated and pedestrian-friendly TOD vision articulated in the station-area plan, while ensuring we still manage effectively the traffic volumes we anticipate on Uinta.” Street narrowing would be accomplished by removing on-street parking and a turn lane (but adding back in bicycle lanes).
Chrisman’s presentation to SUN on July 18 largely repeated information provided at a June 29 public forum announcing the long-awaited plans for the Central Park TOD. In response to audience questions about parking, he cited the balancing act between creation of a pedestrian-friendly mixed-use district and the need to meet the legitimate parking needs of businesses and residents. The proposed overall parking ratio for the 3600 block of Uinta will be two and a half spaces per thousand square feet of building area. By comparison, the Denver Tech Center is parked at roughly three and a half spaces per thousand, but Chrisman noted parking ratios are dropping and Forest City doesn’t want to over-park a TOD. He added that Forest City has options for addressing parking that include conversion of surface parking to structured parking and using an overflow lot west of Ulster Street.
The Front Porch asked Nevitt if Denver is satisfied that the Forest City plan carries out the goals of the Green Book, Stapleton’s redevelopment master plan. Nevitt replied that the city’s “concept review process” is underway and it has not yet been completed.
Asked whether Forest City’s plans for affordable housing at this site meet the city’s vision for this land, the response came from Erik Soliván, executive director of the newly created Office of Housing and Opportunities for People Everywhere (HOPE): “We’re excited to see more than 100 new condos and hundreds of new apartments in the first phase of development at the Central Park TOD. Residents of all incomes want to live and work in diverse neighborhoods near transit centers, so we will continue to work with Forest City to ensure compliance with the affordability requirements in Stapleton. We look forward to hearing more about this specific site when we meet with the development team later this month.”