Greenwood Village residents divided over proposed redevelopment

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GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. -- A proposed redevelopment project near the Orchard Road light rail station has created some strong opposition in Greenwood Village.

City planners are pushing to redevelop the area at Interstate 25 and Orchard Road into a mixed-use area with offices, homes and retail.

The area currently is a business park. It is one of the older areas of Greenwood Village with many of the buildings built in the early 1970s.

“Most people would agree it might be ripe for development. The question is, what kind of development?” Mayor Ron Rakowsky said.

The community is split down the middle.

“It’s the office ghetto,” said Frank Ball, who owns one of the office buildings in the proposed redevelopment zone.

Ball said he can’t find tenants for his building anymore because the area has gone too far downhill.

“My building is from 1972. I’ve tried to rent it and people look at it and say, sorry,” he said.

Redeveloping the area could bring a major economic boost for the city. Greenwood Village relies on sales tax for most of its revenue.

“It’s like the field of dreams,” Ball said. “Build it and they will come.”

A large portion of the community is worried Ball is right.

“Every time we go anywhere, we’re already gridlocked with traffic. We can’t possibly take on 8,000 more cars a day,” said Diane Wischkowski, a Greenwood Village resident for the past 35 years.

Wischkowski and others do not want the community to lose its identity with growth. They argue with an urban setting, new residents will not share the same values as longtime residents. Losing mountain views to high-rises is another main concern.

“I do want to see change, but responsibly. With what’s proposed and the current construction will just urbanize everything that we have been in favor of for many many years,” she said.

Those in favor of the development project argue the new layout will provide better opportunities for open spaces and will promote a more positive environment.

“The only people who use it as a park [now] are the people who walk their dogs and then they poop and then they don’t pick up their poop,” Ball said.

The city council is expected to make a decision in February on whether to move forward with the project. In the meantime, one group of citizens is hoping city leaders will opt to have the issue put to a public vote.