South metro Denver residents who regularly drive in the area of Centennial Airport, the Denver Broncos training facility and the Arapahoe County District Court may know the area as a vast expanse of business parks and industrial buildings.
Look closer, though, and a part of the scene starts to look different: Namely, some four-legged inhabitants walking on undeveloped land just across from the court complex.
At least part of a stretch of land bounded by Fremont Avenue on the south, Potomac Street on the west and Blackhawk Street on the east — and reaching up to the north around Easter Avenue — is home to at least two animals that appear to be llamas or alpacas. A short fence keeps them on the property.
The tide of development is slowly rolling over that land: A project called the Encompass Business Park has already completed three buildings to the north, according to Allison Wittern, spokeswoman for the City of Centennial. The project, overseen by Denver-based Central Development, aims to cover much of the land between Potomac and Blackhawk streets, reaching up to Briarwood Avenue on the development's north edge.
Who owns the animals and how long the land has been used for grazing are unclear. Aside from Central Development's ownership, some of the land is owned by Spectrum Commercial Real Estate Solutions LLC, also based in Denver. Rincon Research Corporation, a software company headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, owns another piece of land in the area.
Spectrum and Central Development didn't immediately respond to questions seeking the backstory behind the animals: How long the land has been used for grazing, whether the land used to be a ranch, who owns the animals, and if they're kept there for fur or another purpose. Colliers International, a commercial real estate firm listed on the Encompass project's website, also did not immediately respond.
City staff did not know the answers either, but at least part of the land was annexed into Centennial — meaning the city expanded its boundaries to include the land — around 2013 or 2014, according to Wittern.
Arapahoe County records online lists the use for part of the land as “grazing land,” although the city's zoning — its rules for what can be built where — classifies the land as “industrial” or “business park.” Centennial has a handful of pockets of land classified as “agricultural” elsewhere in the city's central and east portions.
For the project in the area where the animals live, Central Development develops “light industrial” and office space, according to Wittern. A map showing the vision for the development is located at encompasspark.com/site-plan.
The plan on the website is out of date, according to Wittern. Three buildings — the ones listed as 150, 106 and “Crestone” — are now complete. (The building numbers are not consecutive.)
“Building 28 will not be built, as the land is being used as parking for Building 150. The land where Building 100 and 102 (were previously planned) is proposed to be a larger building,” a matter that Centennial City Council was to consider in December, Wittern said.
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