A long-awaited plan to develop the area around Dick’s Sporting Good Park into a vibrant residential, commercial and entertainment destination got a lukewarm response from Commerce City councilors May 1.
“It feels like a repeat of what we’ve heard before,” Councilor Craig Kim said. “‘Hey, we’re going to build out this beautiful area, we’re going to build out a commercial/tourism area, we’re going to do all these wonderful things.’ And here we are five years later and there’s nothing. Absolutely zilch, zero.”
Developers from Kroenke Sports and Entertainment presented plans for a three-way land swap between the city, KSE and the South Adams County Water and Sewer District during the council’s regular meeting May 1.
According to the plan, Kroenke Sports and Entertainment would give 9.7 acres to the water and sewer district for an expansion project. The water and sewer district would give six acres to the city for the Rosemary Street widening project.
The final piece of the deal would see the city transfer 88.2 acres of land it owns around Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, allowing the company to complete plans for Victory Crossing, a city-center development project.
It was the first presentation of the project and the Councilors did not take any action, but they were not convinced. Councilor Susan Noble noted that the price value of properties involved in the three-way swap tilted heavily in favor of KSE.
“These 70-some acres here could be worth $50 million. That’s $50 million,” Noble said. “The six acres would be about $3.75 million and the nearly 10 acres, $6.25 million. There is quite a huge difference in price.”
She argued for individual negotiations between the three parties.
“We have been presented with the most complicated, and most disadvantageous suggestion possible,” she said. “For that reason, I would not be able to accept this.”
Councilor Sean Fords said he agreed with the council’s hesitancy but with some exceptions.
“I hear, and I heard 20 years ago, plans and I see nice pictures,” Ford said. “But I still to this day have not heard when we might see something. It went from sports medicine facilities and nice restaurants and things over the years at different times, but we haven’t seen things for a number of years and I think it made some people mad.”
But Mayor Ben Husemann cautioned them, noting that sports arena developers like Kroenke go where they are welcomed.
“I don’t want to be sitting here in a couple of years looking at an empty soccer stadium that is not used, that is graffitied, that is run down and no longer has an MLS soccer team playing in it because this city council wanted to cut off their nose to spite their face and say no we are not willing to do something. Go figure something else out,” Huseman said. “Because what you are asking them to do might very well involve moving that stadium and that’s just the cold reality of it.”
South Campus Stadium
The idea for the development dates back to 2004 when the city purchased 917 acres of the former Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge. The land was restricted from being used for housing until a federal requirement was lifted in 2017 and the parcel was divided up into uses.
About 410 acres were set aside for conservation and 130 acres were called the North Campus. The largest parcel was called the South Campus Stadium Complex, renamed Victory Crossing in 2011.
About 55 acres were used in 2005 to build a new Adams City High School. The city’s new Civic Center and Dick’s Sporting Good Park stadium were both added in 2007. The city sold 269 acres to another Kroenke subsidiary in 2014. The South Adams County Fire District office opened in the area in 2018.
The three-way land swap would give Commerce City six acres of land it needs to complete the final portion of the Rosemary Street widening project and the water and sewer district would get 10 acres near the Klein Water Treatment Facility that would give it the room it to build a plant dedicated to removing PFAS, the so-called forever chemical, from some of the district’s wells.
The final 88.2 acres that the city owns would be included with 269-acre parcel the city sold to Kroenke Sports and Entertainment in 2014 to develop Victory Crossing, a project KSE Senior Vice President compared to The Battery in Atlanta and the Kansas City Power and Light District. Both are destination developments combining year-round residential developments, hotels, retail and sports. The Battery is home to Truist Park, home to the Atlanta Braves while Kansas City’s Power and Lights District is home to the Kansas City Chiefs’ T-Mobile Center.
“This excites us as we begin to see the urban growth begin to wrap around this property, it suggests to us very strongly that now is the time to develop this property,” said Brian Jencek of HOK Planning, a consultant for Kroenke Sports and Entertainment.
The group were hoping to meet with councilors in an executive session to begin negotiations, but councilors said they still had a lot ot consider.
“The issues regarding the land that KSE has and what they want to do with it should be completely separate from the projects sites to the north and the water and sewer district property,” Noble said. “We need to take care of that as a city and residents have been asking about water. To tie it in with a $50 million land swap is nonsensical to me.”
City Manager Jason Rogers said his staff would work with the water and sewer district and Kroenke Sports and Entertainment to find an approach that satisfies councilors.