Columbine Square could see hundreds of apartments

Owners hope to build more than 300 units on long-empty site, mum on details

Posted 1/14/19

Columbine Square's owners have offered the first glimpse at their plans for the long-empty parcel in west Littleton, but they're staying mum on the details. The site's owners would like to build more …

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Columbine Square could see hundreds of apartments

Owners hope to build more than 300 units on long-empty site, mum on details

Posted

Columbine Square's owners have offered the first glimpse at their plans for the long-empty parcel in west Littleton, but they're staying mum on the details.

The site's owners would like to build more than 300 housing units on the site, with the vast majority in three-story buildings facing Belleview Avenue and Federal Boulevard, according to documents filed with the city. The plans also call for a handful of retail spaces facing Federal.

The site's developer is Lauren Brockman, the principal of Convergence Multifamily Real Estate Group, according to documents. Brockman did not respond to requests for comment. Neither did Redwood-Kairos Real Estate Partners, the California-based real estate goliath that owns the site.

The plans don't represent a formal proposal, said Jocelyn Mills, the city's community development director.

“All we've done is hold a pre-application meeting,” Mills said. “That's simply a landowner coming and saying 'this is what we'd like to do,' and we provide feedback about what steps they'd need to take.”

In this case, Mills said, the owner's plans would require a change to the site's zoning, which would require several public hearings: first, at least one neighborhood meeting hosted by the owners, then public hearings before the city planning commission and eventually city council if the plans were approved.

The plans already submitted to the city make no mention of possible rental rates.

Formerly home to a sprawling strip mall, Columbine Square has sat vacant since 2014. Numerous buildings on the site sat empty for years, drawing vandalism and squatters, until a fire in the first few days of 2018 left one building destroyed and spurred the demolition of the rest.

The site is the cornerstone of the city's sole remaining urban renewal district, overseen by Littleton Invests For Tomorrow, or LIFT board.

The designation means the owners could potentially apply to access a pool of taxpayer money to build improvements on the site, but it's unknown if they plan to do so, said board chairman Kevin Seiler.

“I've never talked to any of them,” Seiler said of the site's owners.

Seiler was already working on convening a meeting of property owners in the urban renewal district when the Columbine Square plans came to light, he said. The district includes O'Toole's Garden Center, just south of Columbine Square, and stretches as far south as Prentice Avenue and as far west as South Lowell Boulevard, according to city maps.

Seiler said he wasn't enthusiastic about the developer's plans.

“What I'd like to see is more in line with what the neighborhood wants to see,” Seiler said. “They want retail. Businesses. We want a project everybody can be happy with, whether there's urban renewal or not.”

A thread on the Nextdoor community message board about the plans drew mixed responses.

“Gosh, I would hope for something a lot better in this day and age,” read one comment.

“I am all for decent and modern apartments going up,” read another.

“No more apartments and more vehicles on the streets,” read another. “More retail tax money is so much better and beneficial.”

Littleton Mayor Debbie Brinkman declined to weigh in on the plans, citing the possibility of a future zoning change hearing.

But City Councilmember Patrick Driscoll, who represents the area, said in an email that he wasn't impressed by the plans.

“I don't believe this plan will get neighborhood support,” Driscoll said. “This is a great parcel, and I would like to see more creativity.”

Seiler said he's eager to see plans of some sort move forward, saying the site is again drawing squatters.

“We're looking for ways to partner with the property owners to improve the look and feel of the area,” Seiler said. “Right now having a homeless tent city on the property doesn't do anyone any good.”

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