Other options include rehabbing the existing structures at Dahlia and landscaping the facility, which at the moment is a square block of broken blacktop framed by weary buildings. The city is also considering knocking down the west side of the shopping center and constructing single-family homes there. City staffers are working on a neighborhood plan, but there is no target date for its completion. "These things can take a while," Zsako says, noting that redevelopment relies in part on the private sector. But with an anticipated 15,000 new residents coming into the area, Zsako thinks that the old airport may increase traffic on MLK, which is what developers will demand if Dahlia is to be reborn.
Duran says the Dahlia project "could potentially get stalled, and Stapleton could get redeveloped, and nothing would happen [at Dahlia]."
The four front-runners -- and that's not even half of the candidates: Jerry Duran (top), Glenda Swanson Lyle, John Bailey and Elbra Wedgeworth.
If elected, Jerry Duran will be the first non-black District 8 councilman.
Lyle says she's more concerned that the Dahlia redevelopment has "been on hold for way too long. It's an embarrassing, objectionable piece of property. We've studied it to death. That's why the city councilperson can be like the bully pulpit to get things done."
But not everyone thinks Dahlia should be home to new shops. Candidate Thomas Henry Juniel, a retired sociologist, says Dahlia would be better off with low-income housing. "Folks I've talked to would prefer to go to Stapleton. There's more retail, and it wouldn't pose the threat of gangs.
"The district is in bad shape," he adds. "It's one of the worst in terms of lighting and street maintenance. In snowstorms, they have cleaned Larimer Street before they've cleaned a thoroughfare like 32nd." Juniel says he's in the race because "I thought I could do something for the area, to get services that other areas enjoy. Hopefully we can get this district as good as the others."