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Denver mega-development advances; could it be a prime site for Amazon HQ2?

Author: Mark Harden - June 12, 2018 - Updated: June 12, 2018

A Denver planning department map shows the area around Elitch Gardens transformed into a tightly packed development and a grid of new streets. (City and County of Denver
Community Planning & Development Department)

A sweeping proposal to create a monster development alongside — or even on top of — Denver’s Elitch Gardens amusement park took a leap forward Monday.

And that means those pesky rumors about Inc.’s $5 billion, 50,000-worker second headquarters campus one day rising on the banks of the South Platte won’t go away anytime soon.

The Denver City Council on Monday gave its unanimous approval to a broad set of concepts for developing some 60 acres of parking areas and vacant lots surrounding Elitch’s and the Pepsi Center, Denverite reports.

Specifically, the council approved an amendment to the city’s Downtown Area Plan (download here).

Those concepts could lead to “a new urban center” called River Mile in the area bounded by Interstate 25, Auraria Parkway and Speer Boulevard, with a forest of residential towers, retail and restaurants.

The development — which could take decades to be completed — might also include the current site of Elitch’s. One stage of the concept shows development only of spaces adjacent to the park; another would replace Elitch’s.

Revesco Properties — backed by Pepsi Center owner Stan Kroenke — owns much of the area and co-owns Elitch’s.

No one has filed a specific development plan yet — which gives rise to speculation that the site might be ideal as a location for Amazon HQ2.

Denver is one of 20 cities that Amazon has named as finalists for its new campus. Colorado leaders have said they suggested eight different Denver-area parcels as potential locations for HQ2; it’s not known if the Elitch-area site is among them since much of the Denver bid has been kept secret.

But, the concepts that the city council approved Monday seemed to fit the Amazon bill: A densely packed development cluster near a downtown and convenient to transit.

When asked back in March by The Denver Post whether the River Mile site has been pitched to Amazon, Revesco CEO Rhys Duggan declined to discuss the matter.

Amazon says it will announce its HQ2 pick later this year.

Mark Harden

Mark Harden

Mark Harden is managing editor of Colorado Politics. He previously was news director at the Denver Business Journal; city editor, online news editor, state editor, national editor and popular music critic at The Denver Post; and an editor and reporter at newspapers in the Seattle area and San Francisco.