A vibrant neighborhood just south of Broncos Stadium at Mile High is set for development, albeit development that will take two decades to complete.
On Monday, June 17, Denver City Council voted unanimously to approve the Stadium District Master Plan, which will guide the development of a mixed-use neighborhood in what is now mainly parking south of the stadium, technically part of Sun Valley. “It transforms the stadium from an island that’s separated from surrounding communities to something that’s integrated fully," says Derek Friedman, a member of the plan's steering committee who owns a business near the stadium.
The plan covers the southern portion of the Metropolitan Football Stadium District, which is owned by the State of Colorado; new revenues generated in the area will help support the costs of maintaining the taxpayer-funded football stadium, according to the plan's proponents. The development project itself will be covered through a combination of public and private funding.
The Stadium District Master Plan is designed to work within the Comprehensive Plan 2040, Denver's umbrella planning strategy for the next two decades that city council adopted in April, though some zoning changes may be required.
The Stadium District Master Plan has been in the works for over a year; 1,300 people were involved in discussions, including Councilman Paul Lopez and other reps from government agencies, nonprofits and developers, along with residents of Sun Valley.
As envisioned, the plan will turn parking lots into a thriving neighborhood, complete with a range of housing options, cafes, restaurants and businesses. There will also be new parks in what's designed to be a pedestrian- and bike-friendly neighborhood close to waterways.
"This is yet the latest opportunity to make the South Platte River the best place to live, work and play in the city of Denver," said Jeff Shoemaker, executive director of the Greenway Foundation, a nonprofit focused on preserving the waterway.
During a public hearing before the council vote, however, a number of Sun Valley residents expressed concerns about safety and traffic. "I don’t believe that it’s ready yet. From history, the stadium district has not acted in good faith," said Phillip Kaspar, a 33-year resident of Sun Valley.
Plan proponents responded that it was designed to prioritize the safety of both residents and visitors to the new neighborhood, pointing out that it left space for city planners to possibly replace the cloverleaf interchange of West Colfax Avenue and Federal Boulevard. People have complained about the hazards of that interchange for years.
Denver City Council's approval of the Stadium District Master Plan comes just one week after it approved another long-term development plan for neighborhoods in Denver's far northeast.