DENVER — Extra! Extra! Read all about it! The old Denver Post printing facility will soon come down at I-70 and I-25.
The building has been vacant for more than a decade.
On Monday, Denver City Council officially deemed the area "blighted." That gives the developer the green light to bulldoze it and build something new.
“It’s a huge and big step for us,” said Manuel Jimenez with the development group called Vita. “Now we can start building.”
Jimenez said they will save part of the building, demolish part of it and expand another section to include a hotel.
While the area may not look like much now, the council vote Monday paves the way for retail and office space, hotel rooms and 3,300 new apartment units in an urban center starved for more housing.
“We’re looking at around six million square feet of residential and commercial spaces,” Jimenez said. “It’s going to be great. I’m so excited because it’s been two years of pre-development.”
It’s being called Fox Park and the conceptual drawings paint a vibrant picture of glass buildings, spacious gardens and a walkable city within a city.
“I really appreciate the outreach the developer has done,” said Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca, who was the lone vote against the project on Monday. “It’s gone far above and beyond what any other developers in the neighborhood have done.”
That said, CdeBaca does worry about unintended displacement of residents in the neighborhood known as Globeville.
The development will create a special metro district, which could eventually have higher property taxes, making it unaffordable to many.
“You create a condition where you say you’re developing a neighborhood for the good, but you have to pay back that debt eventually,” CdeBaca said. “That comes on the backs of taxpayers within the area to be developed. We have people in our neighborhood hanging on by a thread just paying regular taxes.”
Neighboring businesses like 1-800-GOT-JUNK in a location next door say the development could bring value to the area, but also traffic and parking issues.
“I’d say the biggest frustration or struggle that could potentially come from this would be a parking issue,” said Ryan Vicenzi, general manager of 1-800-GOT-JUNK. “We back our trucks up here all day to divert items away from landfills.”
The location is certainly prime, right at the junction of I-25 and I-70 and along commuter rail lines connecting downtown to the northern suburbs.
Jimenez said it will include affordable housing, benefiting many who have called this neighborhood home for years.
“They are a part of this,” Jimenez said. “We set an example of how the community, developers and the city can work together to achieve goals.”
CdeBaca, whose district includes the site, says these financing mechanisms do not create enough protections for the surrounding communities in the area.
“A new development, especially one of this size, changes the entire ecosystem that it’s in,” CdeBaca said. “What you have, essentially, is a city within a city. It foreshadows the kind of people who can eventually afford to live there.”
But the Denver Urban Renewal Authority, or DURA, says this kind of financing and taxing district is an effective tool at creating urban infill communities – perhaps the most prominent being Central Park, which sits on the old Stapleton International Airport property.
Fox Park is about 41 acres total.
Jimenez said construction should start by the end of the year.