Apartments, retail possible for former site of Sports Authority offices

'Nation's largest' climbing gym to occupy some space; development company seeks more uses

The fall of a nationwide big-box retailer may lead to one of the most visible new developments in Englewood: the sprawling, 15-acre lot of land once home to Sports Authority's corporate headquarters.
Across Hampden Avenue from the Englewood Civic Center and RTD station, the swath of land holds a 118,000-square-foot building that's now a self-storage facility, and at the south end of the property sits a 92,000-square-foot structure. Gym company Earth Treks is expected to open what it says will be the largest indoor-climbing gym in the country — occupying about 53,000 square feet — in the smaller building in July. The remaining space in that building is up for lease.

The area is bounded by West Hampden and Kenyon avenues on the west side of South Jason Street, along the city's western edge near South Santa Fe Drive.
In March 2016, Sports Authority cited debt of $1.1 billion as the reason it filed for bankruptcy. Now, the question of what else will fill the property is the subject of a push for a development that may include uses such as apartments, offices, retail, restaurants or even a distillery or brewpub, depending on who approaches the property, development officials said.
Those representatives from Ogilvie Properties Inc. and Norris Design answered questions from a small crowd of about 10 at a neighborhood meeting May 23 at the Malley Senior Recreation Center in Englewood. City staff also attended.
“Retail could go there, (a) more walkable kind of promenade retail,” or an office user, Stephen Lechner said at the meeting. He's the vice president for development and construction at Ogilvie Properties.
A first neighborhood meeting was held about a year ago, and a second one occurred in the fall, at which the speakers emphasized the possibility of apartments for rent, said Don Ryan, a senior associate for Norris Design. That could still be the outcome, said Ryan, who presented with Lechner, but it depends on whether an effort to rezone part of the property gets approved by the city.
A mixed-use development, such as restaurant space at the bottom and housing above, would be possible if the proposal goes through, according to the presentation.
Ogilvie Properties wants to rezone a roughly 4.2-acre portion of the property that's currently part of the expansive parking lot between the buildings at the north and south ends of the area. The proposed planned-unit development — or PUD — would include mixed-use options, such as for apartments or retail, and light industrial uses, which include options that don't create large nuisances or hazards and aren't as intense as general industrial uses, according to city code. Currently, the entire lot is zoned for light industrial use.
PUDs allow for a mix of possible types of properties that a city's normal zoning — the regulation of what can be built where — wouldn't allow. The civic-center area is a PUD, although PUDs don't have to be that large. Neighborhood meetings are part of the PUD process to hear residents' input.
Because potentially dense uses would get the green light under the proposal, if approved, parking was a main concern among audience members.
Originally, the Sports Authority property had around 800 parking spaces, according to the presentation, and audience members worried that building on top of the parking lot would push more parking onto streets.
But an apartment building, for example, must have 1 1/2 parking spaces per unit and one visitor space per every five units, according to the city. Ryan said a multi-level parking structure would be included on the property if an apartment were to be built. Retail businesses less than 7,500 square feet are required to provide the equivalent of half their gross floor area for parking, and for larger businesses, parking space must be equal to the full gross floor area, according to the city.
The proposal for the PUD will be submitted when the subdivision process is completed, the presenters said. The subdivision would break the current parcel of land into three separate lots: one for the south building, one for the north and one for the PUD. It has received all necessary approvals, according to the city, and the applicants are obtaining signatures on what the final plot of land will be. After that, the process for the city's Planning and Zoning Commission and city council to approve or deny the PUD would likely take months.


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