Centennial's Jones District development — under new name — signals progress

Development to break ground on two apartment projects in second half of 2021

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One of Centennial’s highest-profile developments — with buildings that could stand up to 15 stories high along Interstate 25 — continues to take shape in its early stages, and it will proceed under a new name.

Now dubbed “The District,” the development formerly known as The Jones District may soon see two apartment projects add to what has long been a mostly vacant field.

The 42-acre swath of land on East Mineral Avenue just north of IKEA is planned to include a mix of office, residential, retail and hotel spaces, while “maintaining important connections to Colorado’s landscape with open green space and mountain views,” Chad Brue, chief executive officer for developer Brue Baukol, said in a news release.

The rebranding to “The District” coincided with a ceremonial groundbreaking on April 7. Previously, a six-story apartment complex called The Glenn was completed on the land, a short drive south of East Dry Creek Road.

The first breaking of ground in The Jones District occurred years ago, with only that one apartment complex being built after that.

The Jones District started as Centennial’s first transit-oriented development — designed with proximity to transit and walkability in mind — and it aims for what developers have called a “network of urban open spaces.” It sits near the RTD Dry Creek light rail station.

Its size and scope evokes some comparison to Centennial’s flagship shopping development in the city’s west end.

The Jones District is “envisioned to be a dynamic, mixed-use area, similar to Centennial’s The Streets at SouthGlenn,” the city’s website says.

Here’s a look at what’s to come and what has recently changed at the development.

Historic site

The Jones District sits in the area of the since-closed Jones International University, which is considered to be the first regionally accredited university to exist fully online. It was founded in 1993, gained accreditation in 1999 and announced its closure in 2015.

In the years before the online-education innovator closed, it faced steep competition — the number of institutions offering online learning, including public schools, had been climbing since the early 2000s.

But Glenn Jones, a cable television pioneer who founded the school and died in 2015 at age 85, also had a vision for a mixed-use type of development in the area.

Plans were initially submitted to the city in March 2013 for the project, which could cost about $1.8 billion to build out, according to Dan Metzger, chief operating officer at Brue Baukol Capital Partners.

The Opus Group was the developer for the project previously, completing the The Glenn apartments.

Asked why Brue Baukol rebranded the project to “The District” and whether retail, office and residential developers were not attracted to the “Jones” name and history, Metzger replied that his team “felt that the project needed a fresh start and a fresh branding.”

“To us, the name and logo of The District better conveys the vibrant mixed-use development that we will be delivering,” Metzger said. “There is currently and will continue to be different aspects of the development that recognize the legacy of Glenn Jones and his impact on this area — for example, East Jones Avenue, which we are currently constructing, as well as the existing The Glenn apartments.”

The large “The Jones District” sign, visible from I-25, may also be changed.

“We covered the large sign with a temporary `The District’ sign, and we expect to replace or modify the large sign at some point in the next six to eight months,” Metzger said. “As to whether or not it will be the same size or in the exact same location, that is to be determined.”

What could be built

Construction of all buildings in The District is expected to take 10 to 20 years, finishing around 2030 to 2040, according to the city’s website.

Eventually, it’s expected to include more than 2.5 million square feet of office space, a “200-key” hotel, about 1,800 residential units and 30,000-plus square feet of retail on 36 acres.

“The District consists of all land that we own — 36 acres gross, or 31 net saleable acres — plus The Glenn apartments,” Metzger said.

The development expects a “full range” of office spaces, from small-scale co-working to multiple-building corporate headquarters, according to the news release.

“This concentration of companies will enjoy access to amenities including local retailers, multiple dining options, a boutique hotel, and a vibrant public plaza that will be home to a robust programming schedule of weekly, monthly and annual events,” the news release said.

Closer to the highway, buildings are allowed to range from five to 15 stories, and farther west, they could vary from three to eight stories.

‘Housing diversity’

Centennial Mayor Stephanie Piko, in the news release, said The District will bring “the next generation of employment centers to metro Denver providing vibrant public spaces, transit connectivity, housing diversity and new office space in a dynamic mix of uses and smart infrastructure.”

Chances appear slim for that housing diversity to include affordable housing. At The Glenn apartments at 9300 E. Mineral Ave., a one-bedroom unit was recently listed at $1,655 per month. Another one-bedroom model was listed at $1,870 per month.

There is no requirement in the city’s land development code for a new residential development to provide a specific affordable housing component, the city’s website says.

Asked whether The District will include any affordable housing, such as subsidized or otherwise below-market-rate units, Metzger said his team doesn’t know at this point. 

“There are currently no plans for affordable housing in the development, but that’s not to say there won’t be — we just don’t know,” Metzger said. “Housing diversity does not necessarily mean subsidized or below-market-rate housing. It can also mean different product types, such as apartments, or townhomes or condos. It can include for-rent or for-sale … We know the demand is currently there for market-rate for-rent apartments, but we are not 100% sure where the residential demand will come from beyond that.”

Metzger’s company is starting to see some demand from for-sale residential developers, “which is very promising,” he said.

The city’s zoning for the development allows for up to 1,806 residential units including The Glenn apartments’ 306 units, but it’s unclear whether the development will reach that maximum, Metzger has said.

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