A number of questions concerning the redevelopment of the former Westminster Mall site were asked during the recent Westminster City Council telephone town hall meeting. Specific questions are being followed up on an individual basis, and summaries of the answers are provided below
What is the projected timeframe for the redevelopment of the site of the former Westminster Mall?
The redevelopment of the 105 acres that is the site of the former Westminster Mall is anticipated to evolve over time, with build-out not expected for 15 to 20 years. Currently negotiations with a private developer are underway and it is anticipated that ground will break for a first phase in spring 2013. The Westminster Economic Development Authority owns about 96 percent of the former mall site and has a long term vision for the site that can best be described as a high density urban center or “downtown” – with all the characteristics that would go with that – an area that is an employment center, a shopping district, an entertainment and culture center, and a place with handsome public spaces. The focus for the first phase is that of a retail-focused development with details to emerge later this year.
Has the city examined other developments, like Belmar, to learn how to improve on mall redevelopment projects?
The City of Westminster has spent a lot of effort in studying “mixed use” suburban developments not just in the Denver area, but across the United States. Ideas that have fed the vision for Westminster have been pulled from many areas of the country to form the ideal that is being pursued for this future downtown district. The city’s vision is to establish a framework for a downtown that will evolve over time, a concept that is fundamentally different than other mall redevelopments in the Denver metro area within that past 10 years.
How will the city accept citizen input?
Thus far citizen input has been primarily through City Council outreach events and the City of Westminster sponsored website www.westminstercenter.us. Initial visioning open houses and an online survey in March and April provided the chance for specific citizen input with has been helpful in refining the city’s vision for the downtown district (learn more here). Citizen input will continue to be sought throughout the planning process for the site. Additional community meetings will be held once a preliminary draft plan is developed and refined. Citizen input is extremely important for this project. In a suburban community like Westminster, that in modern times has lacked a city core, citizen input is viewed as a vital component in community building and is consistent with the city’s long term vision for the role a new downtown district will play in the lives of Westminster citizens.
What is the plan for the redevelopment of the Westminster Mall?
At this time an overall plan is still in development, but a vision has been identified. This vision calls for at least three times the density on the site as that of the former Westminster Mall. The size of the site, at 105 acres, is equivalent to the LoDo area of downtown Denver. The views from the site, both to the east and west, are outstanding. Access to the area with U.S. 36, bus service and future commuter rail is also exceptional. An unmet niche along U.S. 36 for an urban community combines with these elements to drive the City of Westminster to be very ambitious in its visioning for the future of this new downtown. The vision includes developing the site as a major employment center, perhaps home to a corporate headquarters and class A office space, high density residences, shopping with national retailers but also with a mix of interesting local business, and a wide array of other possibilities, including education, culture, and entertainment. In short, we’re dreaming big and invite our citizens to do the same!
Will general contractors be able to bid on work on this project? What is being done to involve minority bidders?
The City of Westminster’s role in the redevelopment of this property will be limited once a development agreement is solidified with a private developer. However, the City of Westminster, which uses a fair and competitive bidding process for city contracts, will encourage the private developer to do the same.
Will there be affordable housing?
Westminster’s goal is to have housing throughout the community that meets a variety of needs, from entry level to very high end. Housing at this site will be driven by market demand.
How will the City of Westminster promote small business opportunities in the new downtown district?
The backbone of Westminster’s business community is small business, with over 80 percent of the city’s licensed businesses falling into this category. On an ongoing basis the City of Westminster devotes significant resources to small business through its business services program, including training scholarships, capital grants, support of the Small Business Development Center at the Front Range Community College, a “shop local” public relations program (one of the first in the state of Colorado) and as a general resource for small business. With respect to this project, the vision for this downtown district is one that makes room for national retailers as well as interesting small, local business. Small, local business is seen as an integral ingredient in achieving the city’s vision for the new downtown.
Will an indoor mall be considered?
There may be opportunities for indoor areas and elements to be incorporated into some buildings and shopping areas in order to foster year-round business and opportunities for public gatherings.
Why are the mall lights still on?
The lights are on because there are still a number of active businesses on the site. JCPenney, Brunswick Zone, Olive Garden, US Bank and the dental office of Dr. McMurtry are still open for business. To ensure a general sense of security and safety, the lights will remain on.
Will new designs be shared with the public?
Absolutely! We literally can’t ring our belltower loud enough to send the call for everyone to learn about this very exciting new development in our city’s history and to share the passion for it with the Westminster community! Once a preliminary draft plan is developed, this will be taken directly to the community for input and refinement.