A potential influx of new apartments and businesses replacing the Sears and Macy’s at Centennial’s flagship shopping development has spurred dozens of residents to voice their concerns, but a …
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A potential influx of new apartments and businesses replacing the Sears and Macy’s at Centennial’s flagship shopping development has spurred dozens of residents to voice their concerns, but a recent meeting showed they may face an uphill battle.
But it hasn’t been for lack of trying. Ron Phelps, a candidate in the November election for Centennial City Council, led a meeting in April at the nearby Southglenn Country Club to collect residents’ input on the possible redevelopment.
He also met with a leader of Alberta Development Partners — a key player in how The Streets at SouthGlenn will be reshaped — on July 16, discussing in part one of the community’s main concerns: added traffic.
“He didn’t offer something he would be able to do — he just kind of let that go,” Phelps said of Don Provost, the founding principal of Alberta. “The conversation on traffic in general was really two perspectives without any agreement of what could be done or should be done.”
At the outdoor mall at East Arapahoe Road and South University Boulevard, the recently closed Sears property is owned by Northwood Investors. Alberta owns the Macy’s — which is still in business but expected to close in coming years — along with controlling the rest of nearly all of SouthGlenn.
But because Northwood and Alberta want to change the mix of types of properties there, they need the city’s approval for certain changes.
Northwood wants to turn the Sears property mainly into apartments, with retail possible on the ground floor, developers said at a March 19 community meeting organized by the city. Alberta wants to put apartments and office space, and possibly retail and entertainment — think something like Lucky Strike Bowling — where Macy’s stands, within a few years.
On the Sears and Macy’s land, 800 apartment units could be possible on each property, but Alberta is aiming for about 400. It’s unclear how close to 800 Northwood’s number would be, but its plan is for five stories. A possible green area with a fountain could also be added to the Macy’s land, developers said at the March meeting.
Traffic on mind
Residents at the gathering at the country club on April 8 voiced concerns about the potential effect on the area’s property values, noise and traffic. A sticking point has been the potential for more traffic through residential streets near SouthGlenn, like East Easter Avenue, which winds through adjacent neighborhoods.
A study on the plan’s traffic impact could be completed in mid-August, according to Allison Wittern, city spokeswoman. It’s being carried out by Felsburg, Holt and Ullevig, or FHU, an engineering and planning firm.
The study will examine intersections around the perimeter of SouthGlenn: those along Arapahoe Road, University Boulevard, Easter Avenue and South Race Street, which roughly represent its edges.
The traffic study will evaluate the need for mitigation measures and, if they’re deemed necessary, will describe for such measures, according to FHU fact sheets on the study’s scope.
It will also examine whether “significantly higher traffic volumes” could end up traveling in and out of surrounding residential neighborhoods, the document said. If such volumes are found, FHU will evaluate those areas for potential mitigation measures, it continued.
When reached out to regarding concerns about traffic, Provost said, “It would be premature to comment on traffic until the study is completed.”
Phelps mentioned the July 16 meeting, which Provost confirmed, in an emailed newsletter Phelps has been sending for months to area residents with updates on the development process. More than 80 people signed into Phelps’ April meeting, according to Phelps, who said the number of people who receive the newsletter has grown to 357.
Provost agreed to meet with a small group of residents in early August, Phelps said. Nine people, including leaders of nearby homeowners’ and civic associations, plan to attend, according to Phelps, so Provost can hear perspectives and information from the group.
Phelps also met with a development manager of Northwood on July 25, he said, who “expressed his desire to do all that he can to address the group’s concerns and issues but made no specific commitments.”
City must follow rules
Whether developers’ plans go through depends on the city’s determination of whether they meet the requirements of the city’s Land Development Code, which sets zoning districts and design standards.
Despite what residents want, the city council could be in legal trouble if it denies a plan that falls within those rules, Phelps has said. The code generally aims to “reflect the shared values of the community with respect to the character, form, and function” of development based on the city’s comprehensive development plan, but it also must “respect property rights,” the code says.
After a second, still unscheduled, community meeting to be held by the city — March’s was the first — the city will hold two public hearings. The Planning and Zoning Commission — citizens who make development recommendations to council — will hold a hearing and decide whether the plans meet the city’s code. If approved, the plan moves to a city council public hearing, which makes the final decision on whether the plans meet code. Those hearings are expected later this year.
Phelps is a candidate in city council District 1, the west end of the city, including SouthGlenn.
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