Developers closed a small cut through street on the Uplands property Oct. 2, the first sign of the development to come.
In the coming 18 to 24 months, the developer plans extensive roadwork they say will significantly improve the flow of traffic in the area.
The .2-mile portion of Shaw Boulevard connected 84th Avenue to Lowell Boulevard, and served as a cut-through to bypass the Lowell/84th signal interchange.
Chad Ellington, a partner of Peak Development Group, said the cut-through has been a safety concern for Westminster, and road improvements to nearby intersections are in the first phase of the Uplands development. A detention pond for the new community, which needs to be constructed early in the process, is planned for that area.
A total of 2,350 homes of various styles and price points will be built on the 234-acre Uplands property, which historically was a working farm.
Development plans call for making traffic improvements from the outside in, with changes on the perimeter of the Uplands parcel occurring first. Internal roadwork will come later.
“While we’re eliminating one traffic movement, we have a whole new road network that will provide a lot more connectivity than Shaw Boulevard does today,” he said. “We’ll be starting the work in the next week or two, and improvements to Lowell, 84th, Federal and 88th are all in the first phase.”
Future plans for the area call for left turn lanes on all four corners of Lowell and 84th, and the addition of bicycle lanes, sidewalks and landscaping.
Long-time neighboring homeowners, many of whom have protested the Uplands development, stood together this week and watched as heavy equipment tore out the former cut-through street.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Karen Ray, a resident of Shaw Heights and part of the Save the Farm citizens group. “It’s confirmation that they’re going to tear out the historic farm and put in this subdivision. To watch what should have been a protected open space being torn up … it was sad.”
Since the cut-through street has closed, Ray said traffic is backing up at Lowell and 84th. She and other neighbors are concerned about increased risk of accidents and future traffic congestion as the Uplands is developed.
City officials said the impact of closing the cut-through was part of a traffic study.
A 2021 study showed traffic flow at 84th and Lowell was rated a “B” for level of service, and that rating would not change if the cut-through closed. A “B” level of service indicates traffic flows “reasonably free.” Traffic levels of service are rated A through F, with F indicating “forced or breakdown flow.”
“Traffic impact is always a concern for the community and city staff, and it was closely reviewed and considered,” said Westminster communications manager Andy Le. “The best data we have available shows the level of service through that intersection will not be significantly changed (by the closure).”
Le said the city will monitor traffic throughout the project’s development, and will “request changes and modifications should the level of service fall below our standards.”
Ellington said developers have tried to keep neighbors involved and up-to-date on the project, including road changes.
“We’ve really gone above and beyond the city’s process for notification, keeping the community apprised of what’s happening,” he said. “We’re never going to make everybody happy.”
Ray is among many in the area who’d hoped the city would buy the private property and preserve it as open space.
“I’m not anti development, but at the same time, part of public health is having open spaces,” she said. “The city could have found the money if they’d had an interest. They took something that was untouched for over 100 years. It’s now going to be 85 percent concrete.”
Full buildout of the Uplands is expected in about 15 to 20 years at the site, which is located between Federal and Lowell boulevards and 84th and 88th avenues. It was owned by The Pillar of Fire Church until it was sold to Uplands developers.