Residents voice concerns on possible Streets at SouthGlenn redevelopment

Group voices preferences for projects at outdoor mall

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The prospect of more apartments and new businesses replacing the Sears and Macy's at The Streets at SouthGlenn roused more than 50 area residents to assemble a list of what they'd rather see built at the outdoor mall.

“Through tonight, hopefully we can offer something tangible about what we can offer,” said Ron Phelps, who led a meeting at the nearby Southglenn Country Club to collect residents' ideas.

The recently closed Sears property is owned by Northwood Investors, and Alberta Development Partners owns the Macy's — which is still in business — along with controlling the rest of nearly all of SouthGlenn.

But because the City of Centennial passed a master development plan in 2006 that deviates from normal zoning — the rules for what can be built where in the city — Northwood and Alberta need the city's approval for certain types of changes.

Northwood wants to turn the Sears property mainly into apartments, with retail possible on the ground floor, developers said at a March 19 community meeting organized by the city. Alberta wants to put apartments and office space, and possibly retail and entertainment — think something like Lucky Strike Bowling — where Macy's stands, within a few years.

On the Sears and Macy's land, 800 apartment units could be possible on each property, but Alberta is aiming for about 400. Northwood's plan is for five stories. A possible green area with a fountain could also be added to the Macy's land, developers said at the March meeting.

Residents at the gathering at the country club on April 8 voiced concerns about the new projects' potential effect on the area's property values, noise and traffic. A sticking point with residents has been the potential for more traffic through residential streets near SouthGlenn, like East Easter Avenue, which winds through adjacent neighborhoods.

The crowd shouted out copious ideas for what it would prefer to see: A small amphitheater, a cultural center, a water park, a garden space, a hall for food vendors like Aurora's Stanley Marketplace. Phelps floated the idea of the city buying part of the Sears property to build a park or amphitheater.

“Why would (developers) care what we think? It matters on the approval process,” Phelps said. If the crowd is vocal, developers “will pay attention because it doesn't behoove them to go through this process with fingers in their ear.”

Phelps is also a candidate in the upcoming November election for Centennial City Council District 1, the west end of the city, including Streets at SouthGlenn.

Whether developers' plans go through depends on the city's determination of whether they meet the requirements of the city's Land Development Code, which sets zoning districts and design standards.

The city council could be in legal trouble if it denies a plan that falls within those rules, Phelps told the crowd. The code generally aims to “reflect the shared values of the community with respect to the character, form, and function” of development based on the city's comprehensive development plan, but it also must “respect property rights,” the code says. It also lays out hundreds of pages, including technical rules about how properties may be designed.

After a second, still unscheduled, community meeting, the city will hold two public hearings on the plans. The Planning and Zoning Commission — citizens who make development recommendations to council — will hold a hearing and decide whether the plans meet the city's code. If approved, the plan moves to a city council public hearing, which makes the final decision on whether the plans meet code.

The group may organize a petition effort, said Phelps, who has sent out emailed updates and an online survey to citizens regarding their preferences.

Casey Batt, who helped Phelps lead the meeting at the country club, urged everyone to pitch in on the effort to be heard.

“If we're not organized,” Batt said, “we're not going to be able to make the impact.”

Note: Due to an error on the City of Centennial's website, the year in which Centennial approved a master development plan for The Streets at SouthGlenn was incorrectly stated. The year has now been updated.

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