New home construction in Stapleton north of I-70 is booming. The big brown empty field that less than a year ago stretched from The Shops at Northfield to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park has become a thriving neighborhood with block upon block of new homes. Development is ahead of schedule—more and more blocks are filled with neighbors rather than construction workers.
“Everyone is so excited. There’s a lot of good energy about it,” says Brandy Bishop, a resident since July. She and her husband, Troy, moved from their longtime home in Santa Monica after their 1-year-old son was born. She says Conservatory Green is ideal for raising their son—it’s family friendly but still close to the city.
When they first decided to buy there and looked at the field of dirt that would become their home, the couple says they were nervous—but also excited to be “pioneers” in a brand-new neighborhood.
As of Sept. 30, Forest City reported 250 of the total 500 homes in Conservatory Green have been sold.
The exact number of residents is unknown, but Brandy Bishop says about 30 houses were occupied as of early October. Many of those are young families who work at the Anschutz campus or empty nesters relocating from the south part of Stapleton, Bishop says.
Stapleton Master Community Association (MCA) Director of Programming Diane Deeter says they will need to wait for a larger mass of residents in the north before they can extend programming such as concerts and movies to the new neighborhood. At this point, an MCA community room is not planned in the north, but all are welcome to events at the current MCA room.
“We have a group of residences north of I-70 and a group south of I-70, but it’s all one Stapleton,” she says.
The neighborhood will have similar features to the rest of Stapleton, including four “in-tract” pocket parks and a town green and plaza that inspired the neighborhood’s name. Regional parks will have paths for pedestrians and cyclists.
Like homes in the southern part of Stapleton, almost all houses will have front porches. But some features will be unique to Conservatory Green, says Forest City Director of Development Heidi Majerik. Unlike the south part of Stapleton that has one large community garden, Conservatory Green will have smaller plots throughout the neighborhood. The houses use a “Modern Stapleton” design with a palette of colors taken from the Rocky Mountain Arsenal prairie landscape.
Next summer two pools will be built—one will be an eight-lane competition pool. And they will have basketball and volleyball courts, which are not found anywhere else in Stapleton, Majerik says. She points out that Forest City has purposefully planned for unique attractions in different parts of Stapleton to draw in the rest of the community.
Residents in the north will have the same school boundary rules as the rest of Stapleton. Currently, school boundaries are open so kids have a choice of any school in Stapleton, but DPS is considering some changes in the Stapleton boundary system based on recommendations from Stapleton United Neighbors (SUN). (See SUN Spot on page 28.)
While the design of the homes encourages a close community, Diane Deeter says Stapleton seems to develop organically. “From one block to another, people kind of create their own identity.” She expects the same for Conservatory Green and is excited to see their unique traditions and identity.
When residents first started moving to Stapleton in 2002, Deeter was the heart and soul of the community, says Bill Fulton, the first Stapleton United Neighbors president.
Fulton remembers when Stapleton was just transitioning from its airport beginnings. At night, when he turned off the lights in his house, it was pitch black because the neighborhood didn’t have streetlights.
“It felt like moving into your college dorm. We all met at the visitor’s center where there was a party, and then everyone went to see their houses,” he said.
Conservatory Green seems to be developing the same way. Neighbors have formed welcome parties, barbecues, a Facebook group, happy hours in the courtyard and more. Bishop says they already know their neighborhood better than their beach community in Santa Monica. “I think because we’re all in this together it’s a good feeling of community. I never felt that in Santa Monica.”
The first phase of Conservatory Green, now under construction, will be approximately 500 homes—about 50 of those homes are now occupied. Another 250 homes will be built just east of the neighborhood under construction now. Seven hundred homes will be built north of Conservatory Green and south of 56th Avenue.
But, those neighborhoods are relatively small compared to the neighborhood planned for the land just east of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and south of Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. That 600-acre area, which is now in the early planning stages, is expected to have 2000 residences.