Residents weigh in as Highlands Ranch development fills formerly empty land

Shea Properties' Central Park continues to grow

Posted 6/26/18

Residents have mixed feelings about the latest development coming to life in Highlands Ranch, known as Central Park. Owned by Shea Properties, the 100-acre property sits east of Lucent Boulevard and …

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Residents weigh in as Highlands Ranch development fills formerly empty land

Shea Properties' Central Park continues to grow

Posted

Residents have mixed feelings about the latest development coming to life in Highlands Ranch, known as Central Park.

Owned by Shea Properties, the 100-acre property sits east of Lucent Boulevard and south of Town Center Drive. By early 2019, it will encompass a six-story UCHealth hospital, regional park, communications tower for the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, apartments, single-family homes and a mix of retail, recreation and commercial buildings.

Almost complete, the retail area of the development is a hub of restaurants and workout studios. Popular chains including Shake Shack, Mad Greens and Starbucks have or will soon be opened. Barre3, a ballet-inspired studio, and Orangetheory Fitness, offering high-intensity interval workouts, have also opened.

While some residents agree that Central Park brings new options to the community, others miss the simplicity of what once was. Prior to the development, the land was untouched.

“It was a bit of the old Colorado, beautiful open space with mountain views in the distance among a corporate jungle, horses and cows grazing in the heart of suburbia,” resident Eric Burton said. “Kind of like a breath of fresh air on smoggy day.”

Resident Jess Katz can't make up her mind about the place, she said over Facebook. She's gone to dinner in Central Park twice and had bad experiences both times, she said.

“I know it's new,” Katz said, “so we're trying not to completely write it off quite yet.”

Alaina Hopkins-Leighton is excited for the latest restaurant, Torchy's Tacos, to open later this month. Twice a month, she and her husband go to another location of the Mexican restaurant in Greenwood Village, 8505 E. Arapahoe Road. The joint is known for its signature tacos, the Green Chile Pork, Fried Avocado and Trailer Park.

“It'll be nice to have one right here,” Hopkins-Leighton said.

Business owners in Central Park are optimistic about the future of the development.

Lindsey Schwarz, manager of Orangetheory Fitness, and her staff like the variety of dining options. Schwarz doesn't mind being next door to other fitness studios, she said, because they offer different types of workouts. Rush Cycle, a spinning studio, will occupy the space between Orangetheory and Barre3.

“I think it's great,” Schwarz said. “As businesses continue to open, we see more and more foot traffic and energy. We are loving inviting new neighbors and getting to know people.”

She looks forward to the regional park that is coming to fruition behind her studio.

The namesake of the development, the park will encompass about three acres. At its center is a 150-foot orange structure — county officials describe its shape as “chopsticks” — that doubles as a communication tower for the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. The park is expected to have an outdoor gathering space, amphitheater, restrooms and walking trails.

“I'm really excited to see how the park develops,” Schwarz said. “It will be a nice spot to take breaks and hang out.”

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