SouthGlenn development plan to reach formal review stage soon

Centennial City Council vote on possible apartments, offices is likely months away

Ellis Arnold
earnold@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 8/31/20

Nearly a year and a half after plans to redevelop Centennial’s flagship shopping complex met the public eye at a meeting that drew more than 100, The Streets at SouthGlenn’s main property owner …

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SouthGlenn development plan to reach formal review stage soon

Centennial City Council vote on possible apartments, offices is likely months away

Posted

Nearly a year and a half after plans to redevelop Centennial’s flagship shopping complex met the public eye at a meeting that drew more than 100, The Streets at SouthGlenn’s main property owner says developers may submit a formal proposal to the city in the next several weeks.

That means residents may soon have their chance to review and submit comments on the proposal. So would local government districts that could be affected by development — such as South Metro Fire Rescue, Arapahoe Libraries, and agencies that manage local stormwater and transportation.

Developers want to revitalize the outdoor mall, which has fought recent vacancies and is facing the expectation that its Macy’s store could close in coming years. Because the developers want to change the mix of types of properties allowed, their plans need the city’s approval.

The mall is a top source of tax revenue for Centennial, but it’s pulling in a smaller proportion of funds than it used to.

The Sears property that closed near the end of 2018 at SouthGlenn is owned by Northwood Investors, which wants to add apartments there. Alberta Development Partners — which controls nearly all of SouthGlenn — wants to put in apartments and office space, and possibly retail and entertainment establishments, where Macy’s stands.

After the public reviews the developers’ proposal, it still must undergo scrutiny from the Centennial Planning and Zoning Commission, a body of citizens who make development recommendations to city council.

Then it faces a city council vote, an event likely months away.

Residents last year primarily voiced concerns about the potential for more traffic around the mall, which sits at East Arapahoe Road and South University Boulevard, a major intersection in the south metro Denver area. They also objected to the possibility of apartment buildings sitting across the street from the less-dense neighborhood nearby.

Ron Phelps, a recent candidate who ran unsuccessfully for the city council seat in far west Centennial in November, organized the Neighbors for The Streets at SouthGlenn group last year to advocate for changes to the development vision. He says he’s met and spoken with developers multiple times about their plans for SouthGlenn.

“We have reminded the developers in each meeting that our ideal outcome is to prevent any and all new building of rental residential on this side of town in the middle of our beautiful suburban neighborhoods,” Phelps said. “That said, one doesn’t always get what one wants. I believe in being practical and realistic.”

What could change

Between the Sears and Macy’s properties, 1,071 new residential units could be added under the proposal, including 148 that are currently allowed but not yet built, according to the city. SouthGlenn already has 202 units in the Portola apartments, and new units would likely be high-end like at the Portola.

Northwood’s plan is for five stories, and Alberta’s appeared similar based on renderings shown to the crowd at a Nov. 19 community meeting on the plans that drew roughly 400 people. Both developers want to raise the allowed height on both properties from 50 feet to 75.

For context, the current tallest building at SouthGlenn is the office building north of the existing Sears building at 85 feet, according to the city website.

Those proposed numbers of units and building heights were released late last year, and it’s unclear how the details may change in the developers’ formal submittal to the city in the coming weeks. Phelps has praised the developers’ willingness to take community concerns into account, but it’s unclear what the final picture will look like.

Donald Provost, founding principal with Alberta, said developers continue to work with community members and the city government in firming up their plans.

“We have held several virtual meetings and calls with (Phelps) and other community leaders,” Provost said Aug. 27. “We very much appreciate their willingness to meet and have productive conversations. We continue to work on revising our plans and development standards and expect that we will be making a submittal sometime over the next several weeks.”

What the proposal depends on

Because the City of Centennial approved a master development plan in 2006 that deviates from normal zoning — the rules for what can be built where in the city — Northwood and Alberta need the city’s approval to make certain changes.

The proposal, if approved, would decrease the amount of required retail space at SouthGlenn in addition to increasing the allowed number of residential units and the allowed height of the Sears and Macy’s properties.

Generally, the planning and zoning commission — and, if it gives the green light, then city council — must base the decision on whether they feel it will benefit the public and if it “will not materially and adversely affect existing development on adjacent properties, or measures will be taken to substantially buffer or otherwise substantially mitigate any incompatibility or adverse impacts,” according to the city website.

The proposal must be consistent with the mixed-use concept of SouthGlenn’s master development plan and must not conflict with the requirements of the master development agreement or financial obligations regarding the project. The city entered into the 2006 master development agreement with the developer to establish the process by which SouthGlenn was redeveloped, and the MDA is tied to the master development plan.

The proposal also must be consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan, Centennial NEXT, which sets goals for future development and land use in the city.

The city could also deny the proposal if council feels it would conflict with the general-purpose criteria listed the city’s land development code, which lays out zoning and other standards for development.

However, city staff will review the plan submitted by the developer to make sure all criteria are met prior to it moving forward to city council approval, Allison Wittern, city spokeswoman, has said.

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