Last development underway to complete Lowry neighborhood in Denver

March 10, 2016

March 10, 2016
Joe Vaccarelli, The Denver Post

Boulevard One development will be the last major infill project in community built over old Air Force base

Homes are popping up and families are moving into the Boulevard One development in the “grand finale” of the Lowry neighborhood that has built out over the past 20 years near the Aurora border.

“We’re approaching peak development activity,” said Hilarie Portell, marketing director of the Lowry Redevelopment Authority, a quasi-governmental group that was created by Denver and Aurora to oversee the neighborhood’s development after the Lowry Air Force Base closed in 1994.

The 70-acre Boulevard One development between Quebec and Monaco streets just south of First Avenue will include 800 residential units, 200,000 square feet of commercial space and 13 acres of parks and open space. Eighty-six of the 800 units will be affordable housing through the Denver Housing Authority and Volunteers of America.

The development is considered the last major infill project of the community — although other smaller developments are still popping up — and is the last project that will be managed by the Lowry Redevelopment Authority, which will sunset over the next two years as work wraps up. The site wasn’t available when the base closed, but when Buckley Annex closed in 2011, the land was given to the authority.

The development was not without controversy: Residents filed a lawsuit in late 2014 regarding the rezoning of part of the development. The lawsuit was dismissed.

More than 10 home builders are at Boulevard One, which will include apartments, single-family homes and rowhouses. All of the land is either sold, under contract or there is a letter of intent in place, according to Portell.

“Everything is spoken for at this point,” she said.

Buildings are at various stages of development, with some homes finished and occupied, some homes underway and some just beginning construction. Demand is high, and single-family unit costs range from $600,000 to more than $1 million.

A retail area at the northeast corner of the development could bring in various outlets and possibly a small grocer.

“I think it will be a very pleasant community. They’ve had way more requests for purchasing property than they have properties,” said Denver City Councilwoman Mary Beth Susman.

Susman has been involved with Lowry since before the Air Force base closed, and served on the Lowry Redesign Committee prior to serving as councilwoman representing the community. She said she’s proud of what Lowry has become, and Boulevard One is a good example of what was envisioned 20 years ago.

“It is remaining true to the design standards that were set up with the Lowry Redesign Committee,” she said.

Current Lowry residents have also expressed excitement about the retail options that the development will bring as well as other factors, such as a narrowing of First Avenue and new bike lanes on the street.

The development will also extend Lowry Boulevard to Monaco Street.

“I think we’re excited … to have additional amenities,” said resident Gina Febbraro. “It also exemplifies planning practices of today with homes fronting to open space. There’s some really attractive things about it.”

Febbraro is chairwoman of a bike and pedestrian safety committee in Lowry. She said part of Boulevard One is a step in the right direction to improving safety in the area.

“They’ve been really supportive and proactive in listening to concerns that Boulevard One will bring,” Febbraro said of the Lowry Redevelopment Authority. “They’ve been responsive to the community voice, which is important.”

Portell also is trying to connect the community with commuter services in the area, including bus stops, bike paths and rail stations within five miles.

“We’re really encouraging the community to get to know RTD and make sure that transit service is tracking with population growth,” she said. “As people become more multimodal in thinking, you have to make sure the frequency of routes to Cherry Creek and downtown is increased.”

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