Eastbridge Residents Celebrate Opening of Empty Field

empty fieldFor a decade now, Eastbridge has pined for its own town center. Recently, King Soopers agreed to build a much needed store that would also include a gas station and additional retail space. Eastbridge residents, however, vehemently opposed the store for various reasons, most importantly of which is that it is not a Whole Foods, so “other” people might shop there. King Soopers withdrew its proposal and this weekend, Eastbridge will celebrate.

Festivities will be kicked off by Michael Seery, the chair of the grass-roots movement “Eastbridge Residents Against Convenience.” He will cut the ribbon to officially open the giant empty field for Eastbridge residents. There will also be people shuffling around, games such as who’s dog can poop in the field without being seen, and sad clowns.

“I’m excited for this. It’s a long time coming,” said Jeff Iverson, a longtime Eastbridge activist who opposed sending his kids to Swigert or Izzy Bird because they were new schools. In the background, the Counting Crows cover of Joni Mitchell’s classic “Big Yellow Taxi” could barely be heard over the din of construction of new houses around the empty field.

Controversy about what to build, how much to build, and where to build has plagued Eastbridge since its inception lo these many years ago (eight). With the final phase of houses being built east of Iola, the handful of streets cutting through to “other-town” complete, the lower-income apartments on Havana complete and full, and Izzy Bird now open, the town center is the last thing Eastbridge residents have to complain about. Having lost every battle, they seem to have won this one.

“Some say it’s a Pyrrhic victory. I say it’s a victory for common sense,” argued Brian Lohman. “Excuse me, I have to head over to Sprouts on Havana to grab some produce. I can’t stand going to the Town Center, it’s so crowded.”

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Stapleton “Crime Sign” moved to Eastbridge; Then on to Welcome Center

crime-signThe Denver Police Department has stepped up its crime fighting efforts by adding an obnoxious sign to Stapleton and following that up by breaking into our garages and letting us know that if they had been Aurorans and not police officers, they could have had their way with our stuff. The sign was first located at the corner of 29th and Central Park Blvd., but then was appropriately moved to Eastbridge on MLK Jr. Blvd. “I guess it is a good reminder when you are heading home from work,” says Eastbridge resident Josh Lewis. “But, it kind of creeps you out knowing that apparently it is necessary.”
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Residents Less Than Two Years Away from No Longer Having to Ask Friends for Rides to Airport

rides to airportWhen the East Rail Line project was first announced, it seemed like forever before passengers would be able to enjoy the convenience of a non-stop, speedy ride to the airport. Well, forever is now less than two years away, as the East Rail Line project is set to open for passengers in the summer of 2016, according to a recent Front Porch article. “I wish they would quit talking about it because then I get excited and realize it is still about two years away,” said resident Mike McDonald. “I’ll completely forget about it, and then when I hear about it again, I get sad it’s still a ways out.”
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Stanley Marketplace > Eastbridge Town Center

Stanley MarketplaceIt has been over a decade since Eastbridge residents were first promised a town center. Community outcry, broken promises, and red tape continue to delay the project. Hundreds of people have been involved with the project including Forest City, developers, architects, community organizers, traffic officials, etc. Yet not one shovel has hit the ground to begin the project.

Meanwhile, a team of three (now five) was able to propose a plan for an abandoned building and empty space, purchase that space, get necessary support from the City of Aurora, and procure letters of intent from an array of businesses for that space. “We were able to work together, and most importantly, the City of Aurora was excited and willing to work with us,” says one of the leaders of the project Mark Shaker. “For us, we don’t feel like we are competing with the Eastbridge Town Center. This is simply a vision we feel will serve the needs of NE Denver and Aurora. So, when we look at it, we are not comparing Stanley to the Eastbridge Town Center.”

Maybe because there is no comparison. Consider the following:

  • Time to develop and open projects: Stanley Marketplace = 1 year, Eastbridge Town Center = 10+ years
  • Number of King Soopers projected to be on site: Stanley Marketplace = 0, Eastbridge Town Center = 1
  • Number of gas stations projected to be on site: Stanley Marketplace = 0, Eastbridge Town Center = one, 14 pump station
  • Square footage for retail space: Stanley Marketplace = 140,000 square feet, Eastbridge Town Center = 22,000 square feet
  • Letters of intent for space: Stanley Marketplace = 47, Eastbridge Town Center = 0 (including King Soopers)
  • Planned restaurants for space: Stanley Marketplace = 3 lunch/dinner restaurants & 1 breakfast restaurant, Eastbridge Town Center = nothing specific in plans
  • Hours of operation: Stanley Marketplace = 18 hours a day, Eastbridge Town Center = ??
  • Number of Stapleton people complaining about development: Stanley Marketplace = 0, Eastbridge Town Center = about 50%

Whatever the Flightline folks are doing, residents hope it continues. “It seems that they are doing things the right way, but at the same time, getting things done,” says Dave Saar. “I know a lot of people are looking forward to the opening, and hope that all the businesses thrive.” Other community members agree. “The fact they have been able to look at a place with endless possibilities and get a specific vision for it is very impressive,” says Sandy Retzlaff. Heck, with everything moving so well with Stanley, who needs a town center.

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Stapleton MCA “Winter Welcome” this Friday—but C’mon, It’s About Christmas

winter-welcomeThe annual Stapleton Winter Welcome is this Friday evening, and parents are encouraged to bring their kids to enjoy the festivities. The Stapleton MCA has made an effort to make sure residents of all religious backgrounds feel welcome. “The event is intended to be a fun time for people to celebrate the beginning of the holiday festivities, no matter what that might mean for each person,” says MCA President Liza Kampstra. “Hundreds of people show up each year, so we must be doing something right.”
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Forest City to Residents: “Green Book is ‘Working Document’”

stapleton green bookSUN recently sent an open letter to Forest City which was published in the Front Porch. The letter basically draws major contrasts to the current plan for the Eastbridge Town Center and what was laid out in the Stapleton Rules and Regulations portion of the Green Book. Much of the letter focuses on the contrasts between the existing plan and the Green Book in regards to parking lots and pedestrian access. The letter uses specific sections from the Stapleton Rules and Regulations which conflict with the current iteration. Furthermore, the letter includes community research data in regards to what residents are looking for in a town center, and how it is not jibing with the plan currently on the table. “We are not sure if it will make any difference, but we want to make sure that the voice of the residents was heard,” said SUN President Mike Victoria.
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Moose Spotted in Stapleton’s Central Park

mooseThe frigid temperatures brought about a lot of complaining from Stapleton residents as well as quite a few colds. They also brought some wildlife very unique to the area, as some Stapleton residents spotted a moose walking around Stapleton’s Central Park. “It was really cool,” said resident David Gaies. “We were driving past Central Park admiring all of the snow, and there it was. We didn’t believe it, so we drove back and parked and got a few pictures. It was incredible.”
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Stapleton’s Cutest Kids Calendar Draws Ire of Community

Photo by Pilcher Photography

Photo by Pilcher Photography

The Stapleton MCA had a big gaffe recently when they released a 2015-16 calendar featuring Stapleton’s cutest kids. The MCA had hoped the calendar would be appreciated the same way the dog calendar is, but it did not go over as planned. “We thought that with the dog calendar being so popular, why not introduce a calendar about what Stapleton is most known for; kids,” claimed MCA President Liza Kampstra. “It was meant to continue to keep people involved, and to put out a really fun calendar for community members. We did not realize there would be so many angry parents, in regards to who was included and who wasn’t.”
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