Downtown Westminster will have between 2-3 million square feet of office, 4,500 residents, 700,000 square feet of retail, 300+ hotel rooms, an entertainment district, LEED Silver buildings and have access to public transit, Economic Vibrancy Manager John Burke told councilors Dec. 5.
For the new residences, there will be around 2,200 units that range from apartments to townhomes, condos and others. Right now, there are 807 apartments and three to four townhomes according to Burke.
Westminster city council received an update on the developments at Westminster Station and the new downtown at the Dec. 5 study session.
Interim Planning Manager John McConnell said the Westminster Station will turn into a transit-oriented development to stimulate the local economy, revitalize underdeveloped areas, increase connectivity to the rest of the region and reduce driving dependency so residents can “live, work and play in the same area.”
The land use surrounding the station will be a mix of uses compatible with the neighboring areas.
City Councilor Bruce Baker asked if there is a timeline the city is going by. McConnell did not give a specific timeline.
According to the meeting’s agenda, the downtown plan offers a mid-point between Downtown Denver and Boulder. Total public investment is approximately $100 million with $450 million in private investment.
The development around Westminster Station was an $80 million investment from the city and regional partners. The B-Line opened in 2016 and ridership exceeded expectations — until the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
The agenda says the area around the station includes fractured small lots and public housing. Those small lots will remain and be zoned for such until they decide to move or close down.
Mayor Pro Tem David DeMott wanted to make sure there is a mixture between what properties are for purchase and what is for rent in the new downtown. Also, he wants to balance affordable housing units.
He also asked if LEED certification is a barrier when looking for developers, or if it’s a standard in the region.
“LEED Silver is not a super high bar,” McConnell said.
McConnell also noted LEED certifications can lead to cost reductions, such as water or energy bills.
Regarding affordability, DeMott also asked if the certification leads to higher rent or mortgages for those who will live there. McConnell said it does not.
City Councilor Sarah Nurmela, a former city staff member as well, said it will take time for the developments to take foot.
“Rome was not built in a day,” she said.
She pointed to the Orchard Town Center, which was planned as a large commercial area. While it is, it is also seeing more residential areas popping up.
As well, the developments will be block-by-block, she said, which means the city won’t rely on only one developer or one bank and their finances.
Chief Financial Officer Larry Dorr said new housing units now generate sales tax due to online deliveries. Wherever the purchased item is delivered is where the sales tax goes.
“Residential units were once looked upon as a burden in municipal governments, requiring service but not generating tax revenue,” he said.
Economic Development Director Lindsey Kimball said tech businesses, bioscience and others in Westminster who are recruiting staff, a big attraction and want is multimodal transportation. She said the train connection at Westminster Station can be a big sell for businesses in that area for people to commute to their work.
Restaurants, parks, trails and city events also attract businesses to the area, Burke said.