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Stapleton expanding north, leaving South Stapleton and Eastbridge behind

Sunday, February 19, 2012 Leave a Comment

 As Stapleton neighborhood prepares to expand north, residents want south projects finished - The Denver Post

Check out the Sunday Business section of The Denver Post.

I learned more about Stapleton development while waiting in line yesterday at Shiny Happy Car Wash than I did from this article. The manager there told me:

  • The hole they just started digging next to the car wash at Havana and MLK is a dentist office, owned by a Stapleton resident.
  • Also coming: a bank and a gas station.
  • As for the grocery store anchor Forest City is waiting on, we all know that Kroger (King Soopers) has the first right of refusal. A FOR SALE sign just went up - perhaps in hopes that someone, anyone will make an offer and get Kroger to either go ahead or give it up?

I also hear anecdotes and rumors from neighbors like this:
  • Forest City is no longer waiting on the grocery store anchor tenant. If they can get 50% of the leases signed, they'll break ground.
  • They're looking for restaurants and shops.
  • Smaller grocery stores are interested, but can't get around the King Soopers lease.
  • Remediation is finally complete on the Havana "boot" - and what about that school that was planned for Eastbridge, now that DPS is going to build another elementary school for 2013?
  • There is no money for the green space planned for Eastbridge (after they killed all the prairie dogs).

Here's what John Lehigh, the CEO of Forest City, had to say about Eastbridge development:

"Lehigh said development of the Eastbridge retail center at Martin Luther King Boulevard and Havana Street has been delayed by the inability to secure a grocery store as the anchor tenant.

"I've talked to every grocer for five years, and they're not ready to come," he said, adding, however, that the project and other south-side retail development "might take off this year."

Lehigh said that in addition to slow-moving retail, Forest City has been disappointed in the pace of office development, single-family affordable housing and the performance of some retailers at the Northfield mall north of I-70.

Much of the sluggish pacing, he said, results from years of a recessionary economy that eroded demand for commercial space and dried up credit for apartment development."

We all bought our homes based on Forest City's plans. We assume those plans will come to fruition. We assume that the marketing promise of a walkable neighborhood with plenty of shops and restaurants and local businesses is true. We all assume that someone is looking out for our - the resident's - best interests.

So who is that somebody?

It's not SUN. The SUN board governs what's already here.

It's not the Stapleton Foundation, or the Stapleton Development Committee.

It's the Citizens Advisory Board. They give input on what's coming. (Honestly, I didn't know this until just this week when our friends at StapletonConnect.com explained it to me.)

So my question is this: is it time to shout really loud? If we want Trader Joe's or Sunflower or Sprouts, can we reach out to them? We have neighbors with connections, can this grassroots effort get off the ground?


  • Anonymous said:  

    Liz thank you for getting the grass roots discussion started. One great thing about the Stapleton community is that yo do interact with your neighbors allot. Including new people to the neighborhood.

    Just last week I met a new Stapleton resident out walking his dog as I was mine. Our conversation quickly focused on the Eastbridge town center. He told me that he actually had contacted Sunflower Markets. Sunflower quickly responded to his inquiry about the Company's interest in a new grocery in Stapleton. He was told that the Company would love to expand to Stapleton but is held up by King Soopers interest in the property.

    Now I am not a lawyer,but we do have neighbors who are. Moreover, we all know that King Soopers has the first right of refusal to opening a new grocery. That said, I probably have a simplistic understanding of the first right of refusal concept. Perhaps there are others in our community that can provide a better understanding to why a first right of refusal would deter grocery competitors, like Sunflower Markets or Trader Joe's, from expanding to Staptleton.

    Lets keep the discussion going.

  • Pete said:  

    Anonymous - the first right of refusal can very in terms. Some are structured such that a grocer could come in and negotiate a good deal and then King Soopers would have the opportunity to say "yes or no" to those terms. If that's the setup, that will scare away any other grocer from investing resources to negotiating a good deal, only to have it swiped by KS. I've held that kind of first right on commercial space before.

    What I find offensive is that Forest City has told the community to write letters and emails to potential grocers, all the while not sharing what the terms of the deal are. I think that what we would find is that their terms stink, hence why natural grocers are popping up seemingly everywhere but Stapleton... The one community that is actually most likely to strongly support that kind of grocery store.

  • Elizabeth said:  

    Given that the 29th Ave. Town Center King Soopers is MAYHEM just about every hour it's open connotes that this neighborhood could support a smaller, natural grocer. We all know a grocer of that type would make a killing with our demographic. I'm a neighbor of Liz's and am LIVID as I see the density of housing increase around us exponentially every year with no infrastructure to support it. We chose this house because of the "town center coming soon, 2008" sign that is 2 blocks away. Now, 200 families will be moving in across the street from my house next fall. Good to hear they'll all be able to get their cars and teeth cleaned within walking distance. How is that progressive design?? I'm with Liz. This is a motivated, engaged community. I'm sick of watching this project languish. What can we DO to move it forward?

  • Dan said:  

    Liz, thanks for the article. Here is the post I was telling you about where we tried to make some sense out of the various Stapleton groups/committees/boards, etc: http://stapletonconnect.com/page/understanding-stapleton-how-to-get-informed-get-involved-and-get-

    I am going to add a link to this post to our discussion on the article. Hopefully through all of this attention, we can get some actual dialogue going.

    PS... it was at a CAB meeting that I heard about the 50% leased comment. There is still a space reserved for an anchor store, but the first phase off to one side will start being built when it is 50% leased. This will not replace the space for an anchor, but rather be beside it.

  • Unknown said:  

    Dan, that article is so helpful! Thanks for researching it and posting it!

  • shanleedavis said:  

    I also have been frustrated with the lack of any forward progress on the Eastbridge town center AND frustrated to have to drive to cherry creek for Whole Foods every couple of weeks. We are not impressed with KS, but of course, use it for convenience. I agree this is the perfect demographic for a natural food store, and I think the terms of conditions on this "right of first refusal" should be made clear to the public. The board (which ever governing board is responsible) needs to try to move forward with this already!

  • Anonymous said:  

    Dan - if the 50% leased comment is indeed correct, do you happen to know if they have ANY percentage leased yet?

  • Ryan said:  

    Hello fellow neighbors,

    I too am very tired of the king soopers situation. It is obvious that they know people will immediately stop shopping at that store once another alternative is available and they are too in love with their monopoly to think about their customers. I have posed a comment on the king snoopers corporate site advising as such.

    I think a serious effort by us could be mounted. If we were to raise enough awareness by the community and threaten and hopefully even follow through with a majority of Residents not shopping there out of protest, they may get the hint. I know it is convenient but who really enjoys going there? just venting... Thanks, Ryan

    Here is my post to Kings Corporate:

    The store you have at 29th and Quebec in the Stapleton neighborhood in Denver is dismal in every way. The store is way too busy, food is rarely stocked in the produce section. Whe produce is there, the quality is absolutely terrible. Meat, chicken and seafood is lacking in selection and very poor quality.

    Service is poor and they are overwhelmingly understaffed. Never once have I not had to bag my own groceries.

    The Stapleton neighborhood is one of the more affluent and populated developments in Denver and is just getting bigger. You hold a lease for first right of refusal on a vacant plot in Stapleton at MLK and Havana. Rather than open a new store to ease some of the above concerns, you have been too greedy with the monopoly you have and are unwilling to release the site or build.

    I can tell you this, Stapleton residents are very well connected and very organized. We are all fed up with this situation. Give some serious thought to appeasing your customer base or we will begin to mount serious pressure against this store.

  • Jake said:  

    To Ryan (who said)...

    "...I can tell you this, Stapleton residents are very well connected and very organized. We are all fed up with this situation. Give some serious thought to appeasing your customer base or we will begin to mount serious pressure against this store..."

    We're not that well organized or connected.There's more to the story than the general public realizes.
    Commercial real estate is like a game of Twister.

    PLEASE NO Sunflower Market - have you been in one? Not so good. But why not Whole Foods? Whole Foods is a destination store and they don't want the space? Something isn't right at Havana & MLK Blvd.

  • Unknown said:  

    Forest City has apparently just re-zoned the planned Eastbridge downtown area as predominantly automotive. This is directly going back on their promise to develop this area as a second downtown center with a grocery store. See:


    We need to organize a community response to let Forest City know that this should not be allowed and that they need to stick to their commitments.