How much do the developers behind Lone Tree’s RidgeGate neighborhood believe in the potential locked in the four square miles of mostly virgin land they own on the east side of Interstate 25? They pitched it to Amazon during the company’s HQ2 search.
“We offered everything they needed,” Keith Simon, director of development for Coventry Development said Tuesday, shaking his head as he referred to the thousands of new homes, millions of square feet of commercial space and everything else planned for the east side of RidgeGate.
Amazon may not be coming, but a different major catalyst for development is. On Friday, RTD’s Southeast Rail Extension will open to transit riders for the first time.
Two of the three E, F and R line stops the 2.3-mile extension is bringing to the Douglas County city lie on the east side of the highway. During a preview ride RTD organized on Tuesday, city officials and developers highlighted just how much the one new stop that will soon open on the west side of I-25 has already meant for the city’s economy.
RidgeGate was just cow pasture when work began on the Sky Ridge Medical Campus, now a major node in the regional health care system. In 2014, investment brokerage Charles Schwab moved a service center to RidgeGate. City officials say that between the two campuses, 7,000 people now work in the city of 13,000. Major construction company Kiewit is expected to break ground soon on a regional headquarters that will be home to more than 1,100 employees.
“They built all of this with the promise of light rail in mind,” Lone Tree Mayor Jackie Millet said.
Millet, a civil engineer by trade, has lived in Lone Tree for 18 years and served as either a member of the planning commission, city council or as mayor for 16 of those. What has happened around the Sky Ridge Station is beyond what she could have imagined, and she attributes much of it to the city’s investment in transit.
Lone Tree and local stakeholders contributed $25 million to the Southeast Rail project’s $238 million cost, something that helped draw down federal funding and get the extension built while other projects in RTD’s rail pipeline have lagged behind. Lone Tree is home to a first-of-its-kind in Colorado on-demand free shuttle service that can be accessed through Uber, as well as a slew of bike paths and trails. Five new electric vehicle charging stations opened in the city earlier this spring.
“Look at all the amazing things we’ve been able to accomplish,” she said. “Transit is my passion. I think all of that has been instrumental.”
- April 3, 2019
For Lone Tree’s RidgeGate neighborhood the future is now and it’s arriving by train
- February 21, 2018
Housing development that could double the size of Lone Tree pits growth against airport noise, safety
- February 7, 2019
Kiewit to locate new 1,100-employee regional headquarters in Lone Tree
The west side of RidgeGate is also home to 2,300 residential units and 6,000 people. Lone Tree has built an arts center in the neighborhood and Douglas County Libraries added a new branch in 2016. With Sky Ridge Station within a mile of a regional park and the city’s major east-west trail, Millet views it as perhaps the best transit-oriented development in the entire RTD system.
It could also be a template for what’s to come around stop No. 2 on the extension, Lone Tree Civic City Center, the future home of city hall as well as a dense mix of apartments and office space with buildings topping out at 10 stories. (Federal aviation officials have voiced concerns about this height given that Centennial Airport is a few miles north. Simon points out city zoning rules would have allowed buildings as tall as 30 stories.)
The market will ultimately dictate how fast RidgeGate develops on the east side of I-25. Simon said that could take 30 years, or it could happen faster. For now, Coventry is on the lookout for its next Sky Ridge Medical Center, a primary employer willing to be a “pioneer” at the center of the larger development on the other side of the highway. About the only thing that is certain is that it won’t be Amazon’s HQ2.