After four continuances and seven drafts, an enormous plan to redevelop the 12-acre CoorsTek superblock near 10th Street and Ford Avenue has finally gained approval from the city planning commission.
While the April 28 meeting was long, commissioners crossed the finish line with a six to one vote to recommend approval to rezone the industrial area from C-1, C-2, and M-2 to a PUD for mixed-use redevelopment.
Also, CoorsTek’s request to vacate the alley between Ford and Jackson Streets was approved unanimously.
Next stop for the CoorsTek team: Golden City Council.
While the somewhat lengthy process seemed to frustrate some, AC Development President and CoorsTek project representative Dan Cohen said the company is grateful for the slow and thoughtful deliberation.
”It’s not often that a community the size of Golden is asked to deliberate on a 12-acre redevelopment project in the middle of downtown,” Cohen explained. “One of the great benefits from the continuation was that many people learned that the redevelopment—along with its numerous community benefits— would be incremental and phased in over a 15-20 year timeframe. We are really pleased that the continuation was granted, because it gave us more time to explain all the ways that the project would exceed current city code in more than a dozen categories, including sustainability, energy efficiency, the creation of new open space, the provision of workforce housing, and a new arts district.”
During the four-hour meeting, commissioners and the applicant revisited traffic and parking concerns associated with the development, delivery of affordable housing, open space and vesting.
Although commissioners agreed the applicant’s request for 20-year property vesting should be reduced to 10 years, Commissioner Tyler Scraple offered one out-of-the-box suggestion that could go forth to the city council as a recommendation.
Scraple suggested the vesting period be increased should CoorsTek consider advancing a portion of the workforce housing cash in lieu of performance money so the city could “get things going,” rather than waiting for delivery of such housing units as the project phases to be completed.
But that will be a discussion for later.
Golden Community and Economic Development Director Rick Muriby agrees that the journey has been long — and is not over yet.
The project must still be approved by city council.
“While there are still some differences between CoorsTek and the recommendations from the planning commission and staff, the developer has been a willing partner with the city in recognizing the importance of the community’s vision, and making important concessions to help us achieve our goals as a community,” Muriby said. “Staff will continue to work with CoorsTek leading up to the Council hearing process to see if we can work through some of these remaining differences.”
Both Muriby and Cohen credit local interest and involvement with helping shape the project into something that is truly reflective of the community.
“There were a number of community engagement meetings held within the context of this rezoning process that were very well attended by Golden residents, grassroots organizations and the business community,” Muriby said. “The many thoughtful comments and questions from the community have also been critical in pushing all involved to make improvements to the zoning requirements.”
“So far, we have held more than 90 meetings with community members over the past year, and a common thread throughout those discussions has been the importance of open space and sustainability,” Cohen added. “It’s really important to note how much this community feedback has helped shape the proposal we submitted to the city. We recognize that some residents, even if they haven’t lived here as long as the Coors family, have strong feelings about the pace of development across Colorado. That feedback has given us extra incentive to be thoughtful in our project design and commitments.”
Hoping to meld the past with the present — while preapring for the future — the CoorsTek project is not a run-of-the-mill redevelopment plan, by any means.
“This is a historic opportunity to transform a 12-acre site in the heart of the community from a former industrial use, which was largely walled off from our downtown neighborhoods, to a more vibrant and connected part of central Golden,” Muriby said. “While there are concerns about traffic and parking that come with redevelopment of this scale, and a desire to push the applicant to help further our community goals, I think that, overall, most in the community also see this as an appropriate transformation of this site for the next generations of Goldenites.”
Muriby also credits efforts by City Principal Planner Lauren Simmons and City Attorney Lori Strand for “working tirelessly in the background” over the past year representing the city’s best interest during negotiations with the applicant.
“Their efforts have made this a much better proposal for the community to consider,” he said.
Cohen said the company is very pleased the planning commission has recommended their application for approval.
“This validates that we were successful at formulating a vision, infused with substantial input from the community, into a redevelopment proposal that is a dramatic improvement over existing zoning for the site and that will create numerous long-term benefits for Golden,” he said.
If approved by Golden City Council, Cohen said he anticipates portions of the site to be demolished later this year and the construction of the new CoorsTek headquarters to commence in early 2023.
“Construction of our initial phase of the project will also trigger delivery of the first in a series of tangible community benefits, such as historic preservation, workforce housing and public art,” he said.