Developers promote Westminster farm development

Uplands project set for Dec. 10 hearing with Planning Board

Posted 11/26/19

Isiah Leyshon said he purchased his Shaw Heights home a year ago, so he’s watching plans to develop the farmland around the Pillar of Fire Church carefully. For now, he’s giving the project the …

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Developers promote Westminster farm development

Uplands project set for Dec. 10 hearing with Planning Board

Posted

Isiah Leyshon said he purchased his Shaw Heights home a year ago, so he’s watching plans to develop the farmland around the Pillar of Fire Church carefully. For now, he’s giving the project the benefit of the doubt.

“We’re trying to see the good things that this development could bring,” Leyshon said. “A new town center could be good and the parks and open spaces could be good, too. But my concern is that their website says this is going to be a 15 to 20-year build-out. So what is that phase going to look like, between when it’s under construction and when it’s done?”

Leyshon and his co-homeowner Lyris Sanchez were two of the neighbors of the proposed project that came to an open house hosted by developers Nov. 13 at the Crown Pointe Academy School, directly across Federal Boulevard from the proposed development site.

Development group Oread Capital is advancing the Uplands plan to develop the farmland between 84th and 88th avenues and Federal and Lowell Boulevards, land owned by the Pillar of Fire Church, as well as parcels east of Federal and on both sides of Bradburn Drive west of Lowell.

Planning board

Developers are scheduled to get their first test for the project Dec. 10 when the Westminster Planning Board reviews a rezoning request for two of the parcels. Planner Bonnie Niziolek, of Norris Design, said the group hopes to rezone a vacant parcel west of Lowell Boulevard on either side of Bradburn Drive. The current zoning allows three housing units per acre. The zoning request would allow five.

They also hope to change the zoning on a vacant parcel east of Federal Boulevard and south of 84th from office to allow up to eight housing units per acre. They would also designate a one-acre parcel at 88th and Zuni to make it open space. It’s currently zoned for office uses.

Foes of the project were gearing up, too. Shaw Heights resident Karen Ray of the Save the Farm group said they meeting Nov. 20 to discuss their strategy.

“We want to prepare a response,” Ray said. “We are re-doubling our effort to get letters into the Planning Board and the City Council before that meeting.”

The Nov. 13 open house was complete with a short explanation of the project, displays of their plans, engineers, architects and developers on hand to talk and answer questions, a food truck selling waffles outside and free succulent plants, the paper pots emblazoned with the Uplands logo and a table for kids to make Thanksgiving decorations.

Ray said that looked bad.

“They think they we’re going to be a pushover if they expect sugar waffles and succulents will win them support for what they want to do to the farm,” Ray said.

Developer plans

The project would take several years to complete, ultimately having room for 2,350 dwelling units in the development in a mix of housing types.

Project lead Jeff Handlin said the goal is to build a welcoming community with well built, affordable homes. He noted that most of the new homes built around metro Denver are expensive, high-end developments. While not low income, the Uplands project would be attainable housing dotted with parks, open spaces and room for small businesses.

He noted that the Westminster Castle and the surrounding farmland is a potent symbol of Westminster and compared the development to a college town that would grow up in the castle’s shadow.

“What we want is for people 100 years from now to look back and say this neighborhood, this hill top, is still the signature element of Westminster’s identity,” Handlin said. “That castle will still be there, but now it’s complemented by that college town.”

Oread’s plan calls for converting the large open space surrounding the church into a massive mixed-use development, with housing options ranging from single-family homes to apartments and townhomes as well as parks and commercial areas.

It would combine parcels on either side of Federal Boulevard, including the crop land between 88th and 84th immediately north of the church.

The development would surround the church on three sides and would include the apple orchards immediately to the west of Lowell Boulevard and south of 84th.

About three acres of that land is in unincorporated Adams County while the rest is in Westminster, so the development group would need the city to annex those areas.

Next, the group would need the city to change the zoning designation in the Comprehensive plan and ultimately rezone the property to allow the development and adopt a development plan.

It would ultimately have to be approved by the City Council.

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