Littleton Village, the mammoth mixed-use development at the site of the old Marathon Oil research facility at the northeast corner of Broadway and Dry Creek Road, is nearly sold out of its current stock of housing units, but ground is yet to be …
Littleton Village, the mammoth mixed-use development at the site of the old Marathon Oil research facility at the northeast corner of Broadway and Dry Creek Road, is nearly sold out of its current stock of housing units, but ground is yet to be broken on the swath dedicated to retail and restaurants.
The reasons for the delay depend on whom you ask. To developer Jack Buchanan, the city's planning department has been slow to approve necessary permits. To city officials, the permitting process has been proceeding at a normal pace, and the process may be hampered by a retail environment that's shifting away from brick-and-mortar stores.
“The residents are disappointed, because they would have expected some activity for what was pitched as walkable access to commercial — particularly the restaurants,” said Littleton City Councilmember Phil Cernanec, whose District 3 includes Littleton Village. Cernanec also lives in the development.
Buchanan, whose Evergreen-based Loch Lomond Group LLC holds a nearly half-ownership stake in the commercial property, said he's keen to get started.
“We expected to break ground a long time ago, worst case (last) December,” Buchanan said June 22. “We literally got our approvals last week, and many of our leases have delivery penalties built into them to the tune of six-figure amounts of money, and we're going to eat that.”
Marathon Oil previously owned the site, which housed its research facility for 45 years. Marathon vacated the site in 2000, and the land was rezoned in 2006 to allow mixed-use development. A developer bought the property in 2007, and ground broke on the residential portion in early 2015.
'Pushing and pushing'
The commercial portion, which represents nearly 20 acres of the 77-acre site, is split up into nine parcels, with the possibility for a 10th. Buchanan said some have been sold off: Kneaders Bakery and Café owns a parcel, though a company representative said they consider the location on hiatus. Del Taco owns another — their permits are under review, according to documents filed with the city. Another parcel was sold to a developer who plans to build a senior living facility with as many as 186 units.
Buchanan said the city recently approved permits for a three-space retail building at the property's northwest corner, and he expects groundbreaking within the next couple weeks. A map available through Legend Partners, the site's broker, says the building will be home to a Starbucks, an AT&T store and a Pacific Dental office. The map also lists Supercuts and Subway as tenants of a yet-to-be-approved building.
City officials say they're as eager as anyone to see the retail component move forward.
“We are extremely anxious to see this come to fruition,” said Economic Development Director Denise Stephens. “If there's been any delay in this process, it has nothing to do with us trying to control the situation. Things need to be done according to code, and according to the specification of the development. I think what's occurred is that it's extremely challenging in the current market to bring retail to a site.”
Buchanan said he's been working to get things rolling.
“We have been pushing and pushing and pushing,” Buchanan said. “I know the city has done what they can to speed it up when they could. It's been slow but they're great people.”
Homes selling fast
The story is different in the development's residential section, where a sea of housing is nearly sold out and residents are moving in. The residential parcels are a patchwork being developed by Century Communities and Richmond American Homes, a subsidiary of MDC Holdings.
Century Communities has 182 homesites across 12 acres, according to a public relations firm speaking for the developer. As many as 140 homes are completed and 12 homesites are still available, including one single-family home and 11 townhomes. Century's townhomes start at around $350,000. Single family homes start in the high $400,000 range.
Documents filed with the city show Century is also constructing a four-building, 130-unit condominium development. The company, speaking through PR firm Dovetail Solutions, declined to comment on the project, though a ground appeared to be broken on a recent visit to the site.
Neither Richmond or MDC responded to multiple requests to provide specifics on their portion of the development.
MDC spokeswoman Sarah Hartman would say only that all their single-family residences are sold out, and that their 56 Cityscape models — three-story standalone residences — are sold out except for three model homes that were recently put up for sale. Richmond's homes at Littleton Village start in the $500,000 range.
Littleton's median sales price for single-family homes in May was $421,000, according to the Denver Metro Association of Realtors. The median sales price for townhouses and condos was $275,750.