DENVER -- What does a letter from the State Attorney General’s office mean for the Lowry Vista redevelopment project? A question many living in and around the decommissioned Air Force base still want answers to.
Development of the former Lowry landfill—which was used from 1948 through 1986—was planned when the Lowry Redevelopment Authority took over the property. On the one hand, the development has won a number of in-fill project awards, but on the other, the proposal by International Risk Group—IRG—has been a thorn in the side for many living in and around the new neighborhood.
“We want to know why the public input on the project was swept under the rug,” said Lowry United Neighborhoods President Christine O’Connor. “IRG was given super treatment by the city council, who followed the lead of former Councilor Marcia Johnson, who pushed development of 80 acres of landfill land by the company. In fact, the company was able to end up buying the land for only $10 … land which some valued at $10 million … went about the process of trying to work around cleaning up the site by getting a metro district, water rulings and other entitlements without even asking the Air Force if the deed to LRA could be changed.”
O’Connor says the whole process was inverted. “Get approvals from everyone to make it look as if they are doing such good things … then back-door the USAF by having all their efforts look as if they were working to clean up the site, seeking a deed and covenant change to allow development.”
The company wants to put 400 thousand square feet of retail, commercial, and residential on the site. In fact, neighbors say IRG even gave Denver the "clean land" for the new fire house on Alameda, in return for getting the land at such a bargain basement price.
At a state water quality hearing, IRG owner Brett Anderson, who never talks on camera about the project, refused again to say what impact the AG’s letter will have on the project.
Still, in spite of neighborhood objections from Lowry and Windsor Gardens, the State Health Department has given permission for IRG to do a series of bores into the top of the landfill to test for contamination. But that approval can’t go ahead until the USAF decides whether to change the deed which says-- the land must be used as open space, and the Air Force will pay for any future contamination found on site, which is something they have refused to do all along.
The Air Force has no timetable for any changes in the deed … at press time we had not heard back from their representatives.
So for now, IRG has approval to probe but can’t until the USAF makes a decision about changing the covenant with the developers. That's something neighbors hope never happens.