BY PETER JONES
Don Provost does not have a Plan B if Greenwood Village voters reject Question 1 on next month’s ballot—except to no longer endure what he deems the lies of the opposition.
“What I don’t like from the ‘no’ side is saying your kids are going to be going to school in trailers. That’s not true,” said Provost, founding principal of the Village-based Alberta Development Partners.
Provost points to a report from Cherry Creek Schools that says his controversial idea for a large mixed-use development on the so-called Orchard Station Subarea west of I-25 would have limited impact on the large highly-rated south-suburban school district.
Crowded classrooms, congestion and quality of life are among the litany of issues being mulled—and argued—as voters prepare to return their mail-in ballots by June 6.
“A very vocal minority gets charged up about not wanting any more traffic—and not wanting any change fundamentally,” said Provost, whose projects include Centennial’s Streets at Southglenn.
“This is not a fad that’s going to come and go,” developer Don Provost says of his idea for a large mixed-use development. “This is not specific to an Orchard Road and I-25 conversation.”Photo by Peter Jones
If approved by voters, Greenwood’s guiding Comprehensive Plan would be amended to permit the kind of larger developments that supporters say the city needs, but opponents argue would compromise the city’s richness in open space and low-density living.
“Greenwood Village is the best city in Colorado,” the Save Our Village Issue Committee says in an advertisement. “We don’t want our Village to become an urban center with the look and feel of downtown Denver, or a development at Orchard and I-25 twice the size of Park Meadows mall.”
If the ballot question—passed onto voters in March by a flummoxed City Council—gets the nod, Provost’s wished-for 43-acre development, mixing retail, office and residential, would likely find a home along I-25.
Alberta, which already owns 10 acres of the Subarea, withdrew its original proposal for such a development earlier this year after much of the council balked. Although Provost has yet to present a follow-up plan, he stands at the ready, noting his new building heights would be no greater than anything at the city’s popular Landmark development.
“What we would submit today is far less density, far less height [than the previous application]. But we have not submitted anything—so they’re making comments about something that’s not even on the table,” Provost said. “The [often-cited] report to council was based on a higher density that we’re not even proposing now.”
To hear Provost tell it, the sort of bogeyman of density scares some city residents who do not see his local company as a shared stakeholder in Greenwood Village—some even suggesting that Alberta is tied to Alberta, Canada somehow.
“We’ve created community wherever we go. That’s always been our focus and this is no different,” Provost said. “We’re not trying to build an urban concrete jungle or low-rent housing.”
As for density’s traffic, Provost insists it is as much his concern as it would be for the project’s neighbors, especially given the city’s requirements.
“The project is not going to work if the traffic is not going to work,” he said. “I’m not going to invest over a billion dollars and not have the traffic work. Think of the logic. Nobody’s going to do that. It’s mandated that traffic has to improve.”
When it comes to the perceived “scourge” of apartments, Provost defends rentals as an important component—along with for-sale options—of a mixed-use community. He says Alberta’s units would be more upscale than anything in Cherry Creek North.
“I think it’s a lifestyle choice,” Provost said of renting. “Whether somebody wants to own a million-dollar condo or pay $4,000 a month for rent should be their decision. They are as engaged in the community as the next guy.”
On the issue of open space, Provost’s vision would include a $30 million 7.5-acre park that he calls “the single-most expensive park in metro Denver.”
Provost says it all boils down to the larger trend of new urbanism, an increasingly popular design philosophy that incorporates walkable mixed-use neighborhoods, transit orientation and higher density in the suburbs.
“This is not a fad that’s going to come and go,” the developer said. “This is not specific to an Orchard Road and I-25 conversation. This is beyond national. This is an international trend that will continue to grow. New urbanism is not a four-letter word.”
That said, if none of this is right for Greenwood, Provost would like critics to tell him what is.
“Just let more suburban office buildings get built?” he asks. “Have a.m. and p.m. peak traffic? Is it OK to have 50-year-old functionally obsolescent buildings that are 15 percent vacant? That’s not a good answer. It just isn’t.”
With the Landmark in the background, the Orchard Station Subarea redevelopment by Alberta Development proposes a 7.5 acre park.Photo by Becky Osterwald
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