Upland plan progressing in Westminster

Developers host virtual meeting to update progress, unveil non-profit aspect

Scott Taylor
Posted 7/29/20

A proposal to develop the 235-acres of undeveloped land around Shaw Heights and the Pillar of Fire Church is back with some changes and plans for a new non-profit group dedicated to the area. …

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Upland plan progressing in Westminster

Developers host virtual meeting to update progress, unveil non-profit aspect


A proposal to develop the 235-acres of undeveloped land around Shaw Heights and the Pillar of Fire Church is back with some changes and plans for a new non-profit group dedicated to the area.

Developers Oread Capital hosted a virtual town hall meeting online July 23 to get residents reacquainted with their proposal. It was the first public discussion of the controversial project since it won a narrow victory in February as Westminster City Councilors approved three land use definition changes to the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

“Now we are looking at what we are planning to build in compliance with that underlying comp plan,” Marcus Pachner, the outreach representative for Oread Capital. “That’s what is guiding us and it’s what guides the city, so we are beginning a more iterative process with the neighborhood to plan that site.”

Oread Capital hopes to build 2,350 dwelling units on 235 acres surrounding Westminster’s iconic castle, the Pillar of Fire church.

The developers have an option to purchase 235 acres around Shaw Heights. The developers hope to build on the farmland between 84th and 88th avenues and Federal and Lowell Boulevards as well as parcels east of Federal and on both sides of Bradburn Drive west of Lowell — all land currently owned by the Pillar of Fire Church.

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

The project would take several years to complete, ultimately having room for 2,350 dwelling units in a mix of housing types. It would ultimately have to be approved by the City Council.

February’s vote was limited to changing the comprehensive plan designation for three of the smaller parcels on the project.

The developers wanted to rezone three parcels, including a vacant parcel west of Lowell Boulevard on either side of Bradburn Drive labeled “Parcel B“. The current zoning there allows 3.5 housing units per acre. The zoning request would allow five.

They also hope to change 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.

Preliminary plan

Bonnie Niziolek of Norris Design, principal planner for the project, said she is currently working on an updated preliminary development plan, which will spell out the details of the project more specifically and will be reviewed by the city planning department staff, voted on by the Westminster Planner Commission and ultimately approved or denied by the City Council.

Niziolek said the developers will actually submit two versions of that plan, including a simpler version for the public.

“That plan will provide an overall framework and additional details that will work through the next steps,” she said. “At the same time, we are doing what’s is called a master Official Development Plan for the center square parcel, Parcel A. That provides a little bit more detail and specificity on the development of parcel A. All of that stuff is ongoing now, we hope to resubmit it to the city later this month.”

She said Official Development Plans for the remaining parcels should begin being released later this fall.

“We expect each of those parcels will have multiple neighborhood meetings and multiple filings and continuing opportunities for citizen engagement,” she said. “Those site-specific plan will have more detail regarding lots, local streets, details on pocket parks, what the architecture will look like. There will be a lot more detail and lot more opportunity for feedback.”

It was the first public look at more detailed plans for the largest parcel between 84th and 88th and Lowell and Federal Boulevards. It’s labeled parcel A in the project and is currently defined as a site for traditional mixed use neighborhood development in the Westminster Comp Plan, which allows up to 18 dwellings per acre and a commercial site.

The developers plans call for less dense development on the site, up to 1531 dwellings on the lot over 150 acres and 30,000 square feet of commercial uses. It also calls for new roads criss-crossing the site.

“One change we’ve made was to get north-south street, which we call Irving Street,” Niziolek said. “The reason for that is that we spent a lot of time studying the public land dedication for this site. At about 86th, between Federal and Irving, that is showing public land dedication — a future 10-acre public park that will be a key component to this entire neighborhood.”

Another 11-acre park will be included on the Site A, as well, she said. She also demonstrated plans for Parcel B, the lot on either side of Bradburn Drive west of Lowell Boulevard, which includes more parks and undeveloped view corridors.

Site plans

Pachner said the group will be hoping to host multiple plan reviews for neighbors, and asked neighbors to email the developers info@uplands.com to schedule them.

“Just email us and say that you’d like to have one of these smaller listening sessions where we sit around a table —maybe it will have to be outside or probably it’s going to be virtual for the time being — and we talk about the exact edges where you live, how it comes into your community,” he said. “We are going to collaborate and talk about these parcels.”

He also said the developer wants to host a community charrette, a kind of collaborative design session involving developers, planners, city officials and residents.

“It’s a chance for the community say ‘These are issues that are vital and important to us,’ “ Pachner said. “It’s not only for the adjacent neighborhood but also how they development functions as a community, as a whole.”

One charrette will use a virtual format to create digital open houses.

“If we are allowed, due to COVID-19, we will do some time of an outdoor function where we can appropriately space but allow you to come,” Pachner said. “We can all spread out and you can go through exercises and give us a specific feedback on what really matters to you.”

Community Collective

The group also announced a new non-profit group to address important issues.

“We have heard from so many organizations and so many residents about what they want to see here, their ideas and the way this site needs to keep agriculture,” Pachner said. “We’ve heard all of these and we said we need to go a step further and create a non-profit that will be here for the life of the community and address that really engaged on regional issues.”

The group, called the Uplands Community Collective, will focus on four areas: Food and agriculture, workforce development, small business and civic engagement.

The company has created a website for the new group, at www.uplandscommunitycollective.org on the Internet.


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