New Neighborhood to Replace the Old St. Anthony’s Hospital Near Sloan’s Lake

sloans zoom In 2011, St. Anthony’s Hospital finished its transition into their new, state-of-the-art facilities in Lakewood, leaving behind the 19 acre site just south of Sloan’s Lake in Denver. The same year, the site was sold to EnviroFinance Group (EFG), a redevelopment company that prides itself on “return[ing] tainted land to productive use and creat[ing] value for communities.” Between 2012 and 2013, EFG held over 40 community meetings to develop guiding principles and ultimately a site plan for the project using input from neighborhood coalitions and current residents. And, in January this year, the Denver Development Review Committee unanimously approved the General Development Plan (GDP) for a mixed-use development to be known as “Sloans. “

Upon completion, estimated in 2019, Sloans is projected to have 800 to 1,200 residential units and 150,000-350,000 square feet of retail, office and hospitality uses. The site is currently zoned for a maximum of five-story buildings, although the GDP would allow a developer to seek rezoning for a building as tall as 20 stories. It was just announced that Alamo Drafthouse Cinema – an eight screen movie theater with a wait staff that serves food and (adult) beverages to your seat – will be one of the main attractions.

The development is focused on pursuing a National Green Building Standard Certification for much of the project and is re-using or re-purposing already existing structures. There is a parking structure that will remain largely untouched, a chapel originally built in 1938 which will become the focus of a pedestrian-friendly plaza and the Kuhlman building, originally used as a nunnery for the hospital in the 50s, to be converted into a 52-room boutique hotel. During the demolition, EFG says they will make great effort towards recycling and re-using as much of the rubble as possible, potentially repurposing it as fill to support foundations or streets, for example.

sloans site planAt first glance, it appears as if the redevelopment project and the location create a perfect marriage. It’s no mystery that the residents of West Colfax lack amenities. The area has been blighted over the last decade; boarded up windows and abandoned buildings are common up and down West Colfax Street. The potential of 350,000 square feet of mixed use space would more than solve that problem, affording every opportunity for both local and national businesses to move in and offer their goods and services. Similarly, the possibility of an added 1,200 households would increase the demand for said goods and services as well as increase tax revenues. The resulting revival in commerce would go a long way towards reducing crime in the area and, with Sloan’s Lake Park to the north and Light Rail stops to the south, the future seems very promising for Sloans.

As with every major land development project however, it has its fair share of opposition. Although there is no doubt the seven-city-block-sized Sloans will become a popular attraction and serve as a significant catalyst in the revitalization of West Colfax, it raises some polarizing issues. First and foremost, there has been major pushback regarding the potential for 20-story buildings. The area surrounding Sloan’s Lake is unaccustomed to buildings of such height and residents believe they would pollute the skyline and obstruct views. Additionally, it would contribute to the addition of up to 1,200 new residences, which would densify the population and cause increased traffic and overall congestion. Some of the last main concerns include a perceived lack of imagination when it comes to the architecture and an alarming imbalance in the allocation of open space according to existing plans. In fact, there has been enough opposition to the development that an online petition has over 700 signatures challenging the GDP.

Ultimately, Sloans is underway, but still in its infancy. The current limitation on height for West Colfax remains five-stories and that won’t change any time soon. If a developer were to come along and want a 20-story building, they would have to apply for a variance through the city and an approval would be time sensitive, hinging on the situational climate at the time of application. As of right now, there are no designs involving any buildings over five stories tall. As far as the lack of open space, it continues to be debated. In the end, Sloans appears to have a very real chance of becoming one of Colorado’s finest neighborhoods and bring life and prosperity to an area that’s been neglected for far too long.

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