Denver planning chief to lead overhaul of stock show grounds

Author: Mark Harden - August 30, 2018 - Updated: August 30, 2018

A rendering of the National Western Center, an all-year attraction being developed at the site of the National Western Stock Show in north Denver. (Courtesy City and County of Denver)

The head of Denver’s planning department has been chosen to lead the agency guiding the transformation of the National Western Stock Show grounds into a year-round attraction.

Brad Buchanan, executive director of Denver’s Community Planning and Development department, has been named the sole finalist for the post of chief executive officer of the National Western Center Authority, city officials announced Thursday.

He will be appointed to the position officially after a two-week comment period, per state law.

“As Denver’s planning director, Brad has devoted thousands of hours to building community in big and small ways,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said. “I have no doubt that if selected, he will bring the same passion, inspiration and entrepreneurial spirit to the National Western Center Authority and operate the campus in an innovative and fiscally prudent manner.”

Brad Buchanan (Courtesy City and County of Denver)

The city, along with the agency that runs the annual winter National Western Stock Show and Colorado State University, is developing the 110-acre stock show site into a 250-acre campus offering indoor and outdoor venues for entertainment, agricultural education programs and other events. Construction of the upgrades is slated to be completed by 2024.

City projections indicate that an all-year schedule of events at the redeveloped campus will draw nearly double the current 1.2 million attendance figure at the stock show site in north Denver. The multi-year construction project is expected to create 6,400 jobs, city officials say.

The National Western Center Authority is a nonprofit that guides the site’s transformation and will program, operate and maintain the campus. Buchanan will report to the authority’s 13-person board made up of 11 voting directors and two non-voting directors; former Colorado Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia currently is board chairman.

Hancock appointed Buchanan as city planning director in 2014. He oversees city regulation of development and construction.

A Denver architect for nearly three decades, Buchanan was co-founder of the Buchanan-Yonushewski Group in 1999 and later joined RNL (now Stantec) as principal.

He and his wife also own a cattle ranch in Strasburg.

“I’m honored to be considered for the CEO position but even more excited about the potential of creating a one-of-a-kind campus that will integrate our urban and rural communities,” Buchanan said. “Building on the legacy of the National Western Stock Show, the National Western Center Master Plan and with new partners like CSU, Denver Water and others, we will write a new future for regenerative agriculture, food production and the next chapter of our western tradition.”

In a 2015 interview by Bill Husted for the Denver Business Journal, Buchanan predicted that the National Western Center area would be one of the city’s next “hot” neighborhoods.

“It’s going to be different than any part of our city and I think folks are going to be very attracted to that,” he said.

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.