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Posted 9/1/09

It finally happened. After much adieu — from delays and rumors of impending doom to promises of suburban revitalization and tax generation — …

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It finally happened.

After much adieu — from delays and rumors of impending doom to promises of suburban revitalization and tax generation — Streets at Southglenn officially opened amid fanfare on Aug. 28.

“This has been an amazing project,” Centennial Mayor Randy Pye told a crowd minutes before the ribbon-cutting. “It’s one of those projects you start with great enthusiasm, but then all of a sudden, the economy goes away.”

The $310 million Streets at Southglenn had been slowed considerably by the flagging economy. Its opening was delayed by as much as a year. Leasing of business space has also been slower than originally expected and the development’s luxury condominiums were converted into for-rent apartments.

The pedestrian-friendly Streets at Southglenn mixes the three R’s — retail, restaurants and residences — and has been seen as a potential boon in sales tax for 8-year-old Centennial, a city that in its early years struggled to support its services and public-works projects.

Pye, a city founder who will step down in January, placed the Streets at Southglenn opening on the former site of Southglenn Mall in the context of Centennial’s 2001 grassroots incorporation.

“We made this promise to the community when we started forming this city and said the one thing we would make sure would happen is that Southglenn would be revitalized. I think we did that,” he said to cheers from the crowd.

The much-touted project was seen as so important for Centennial’s economic vitality that the city council created two government entities — a self-taxing district on the 77-acre property and an urban renewal authority — to help facilitate Streets at Southglenn.

The ambitious “new urban” project led by Greenwood Village-based Alberta Development Partners is one of the nation’s few large-scale mixed-use projects to open this year.

Although Aug. 28 was the official opening of the development at the corner of Arapahoe Road and University Boulevard, several of its larger retailers, including Best Buy and Whole Foods, had been open for months.

Anchors Sears and Macy’s, parts of the original Southglenn Mall, were incorporated into Streets at Southglenn and remained open throughout the three-year transition. More stores are expected to open throughout the fall.

Southglenn Library recently unveiled its new location at its namesake development. A multi-screen Hollywood Theaters and 202 apartment units are slated to debut later this fall. Office space is available for lease.

Streets at Southglenn’s principal gathering place is the Commons, a park with a large European-style fountain, a brick fireplace, 30-foot trees and gardens.

Aside from its economic-development potential, Streets at Southglenn has been seen as a venue that can help foster identity and a sense of community in Centennial, a city cut eight years ago from an unincorporated swath of Arapahoe County.

“Community is really what this is all about,” Alberta principal David Goldberg told the opening-day crowd.

Centennial founder John Brackney, president of the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, echoed the feelings of many who have seen Streets at Southglenn as a potential “downtown” for the city of 103,000.

“I believe [Alberta principals] are heroes because this isn’t just a development,” he said. “For many of us, this is a sense of community. This is our hometown.”

Other city residents in the crowd were no less excited as the ribbon was cut at the Streets of Southglenn.

Michelle Field, Mrs. Colorado International, sees Streets at Southglenn as a new and exciting center for social gathering.

“This is a great place for my kids to meet friends. It’s going to be a really safe place for my children and I think there is a wonderful sense of community,” she said. “It feels like an old town, but it’s new. It almost has that European feel to it where things are smaller and closer together.”


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