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May 6, 2016

Proposed Dining and Entertainment Complex May Change Profile of Colorado City

Jeff Allen remembers how it once was: “We used to have a large number of liquor licenses here, and people came to have a good time.”

Located roughly 5 miles southeast of Denver, the city of Glendale in the 1970s and 80s was particularly known for its lively nightlife, which included taverns and clubs by the name of Mr. Lucky’s, O’Rourke’s Cantina, and the Urban Cowboy.

“It was a very lively place where that people came to from miles around,” says Allen, the executive director of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce.

But in later decades the city granted fewer new liquor licenses and terminated many of those that were existing. As Glendale’s fabled night life slowly fell into decline, many area residents and tourists found other places to go to in metro Denver.

At the same time, Glendale turned into more of a residential community, with the overwhelming majority of its 5,100 residents living in apartment units and condominiums.

But now, a plan that has been in the talking stages for several years, could once again transform Glendale, ushering in yet another era of entertainment and dining in the city.

Glendale Mayor Mike Dunafon has proposed building a $175 million dining and entertainment complex that would go up on just over 40 acres along the Cherry Creek waterway. “We will be returning to the metro area as an international city,” Dunafon said as he aired an ambitious plan that would see the building of just over two dozen bars and restaurants.

RENDERING OF GLENDALE180, COURTESY OF GENSLER ARCHITECTS.

Dubbed Glendale 180, the project is a somewhat reduced version of an earlier plan that called for a $400 million river walk, featuring a man-made canal and a 4,000-seat amphitheatre, among other features.

Even so, the latest version of the project remains big, with the potential also for a hotel, bowling alley, and theatre. Altogether, Glendale 180 would see the building of more than 151,000 square feet of food and beverage space, 109,000 square feet of entertainment space, and 42,500 square feet of retail space.

“If it’s done the way it’s being planned, this could also end up being a decent kind of gathering place for people who have maybe had things to do in downtown Denver and are not quite ready to go home,” says Allen.

“It could prove a nice place for people to hold additional meetings,” Allen adds.

RENDERING OF GLENDALE180, COURTESY OF GENSLER ARCHITECTS.

Although the project last year appeared to be well on the way to being developed, with plans for a groundbreaking last fall and a hoped-for opening in late 2017, Glendale city officials were forced to cancel an election for a $200 bond to fund it.

That decision came in the wake of a lawsuit by Summit Hospitality LLC, which owns the Staybridge Suites hotel in Glendale, complaining about the way various parcels of land were sold to individuals who favored the creation of a downtown development authority.

Such development authorities are commonly used to levy taxes and issue bonds for building projects within the boundaries of a given geographical space.

Earlier this month Arapahoe County District Judge Elizabeth Weishaupl ruled against Summit, saying the lawsuit didn’t stand up to legal scrutiny and wasn’t filed on time.

The failure of the Summit suit, says Mike Gross, means that Glendale 180 is moving forward.

“We never really stopped with the planning,” continues Gross, who is the project’s manager. “We were always confident that the suit was going to be dismissed.”

Gross adds that “the leasing effort is going really well, and we are moving forward with plans to do some of the off-site improvements and intersection improvements around the area that need to be done in order to handle the additional traffic.”

The actual work on the off-site improvements is expected to begin later this spring. But work on the project itself still depends on the city holding a new bond election.

City officials say they would like to see that $200 million bond on the ballot during this fall’s general election.

Jeff Allen says that one irony in the delay of the project caused by the Summit suit is the amount of apartment upgrading that has taken place in recent months in anticipation of Glendale 180.

“Because this project has taken so long, the trend has worked out backward,” he says. “The apartments have done their rehabs already just on the word of this development, which just goes to show how much of an economic driver this project is going to be.”

 

By Garry Boulard

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