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Plans for new downtown area begin to take shape

The City of Castle Pines is working in partnership with business owners to develop plans, like this pedestrian walkway, which will make the downtown area of Castle Pines more of an inviting gathering place for both residents and visitors. The new library, which is slated to open in 2016 in the Village Square Shopping area, serves as an anchor for enhancement of the area.

By Lisa Crockett; rendering courtesy of Downtown Colorado, Incorporated

A new library will soon be part of the downtown landscape in the City of Castle Pines. The library district plans to break ground on the building in 2015, and be open in 2016. The library will function as a sort of community hub, offering a myriad of services in addition to books, movies and other media.

“The new library will be a vital, intriguing anchor and draw to the Castle Pines Business Commons area, including beautiful indoor and outdoor experiences for individuals and groups of all ages,” said Aspen Walker, manager of the Castle Pines Branch Library, which is currently housed in a small storefront location in the Village Square Shopping Center. “Whether you’re looking for social collaboration or solo contemplation, the library will be an innovative and comfortable place to choose and enact your adventure, right in the heart of Castle Pines.”

But the library is only the beginning of the story. In 2012, the City enlisted the help of Downtown Colorado, Incorporated (DCI), a nonprofit group which assessed the downtown area of Castle Pines and formulated plans to energize the city’s center and make it more of a gathering place for the people who live and work here. Using the library as an anchor for the plan, DCI proposed changes to the Town Square Shopping area (home to Duke’s Steakhouse and La Dolce Vita) to make it more inviting to pedestrians and easier to navigate in a car with the aim of attracting businesses and customers.

Last month, DCI unveiled several details that they propose the city and its property owners implement in order to create a sense of place for the people who live here, as well as tools for attracting motorists who pass through Castle Pines on I-25. Easily readable, attractive signage allows both residents and visitors to easily find their way around is a big part of the plan. New landscaping in the area, widened sidewalks to allow for greater pedestrian traffic as well as outdoor restaurant and retail uses, angled parking spaces, and traffic re-routing are all components of the plan.

“Our objective is to use the new library as the hub of a more pedestrian and bicycle friendly business district,” said Jeffrey Huff, mayor of Castle Pines. “We want to create an environment that encourages people to linger and interact with each other. As we conduct and support a variety of events and activities in our business district, it will make Castle Pines more attractive for retail and commerce.”

Although the Village Square shopping area is comprised of mostly privately-owned retail space, the city’s acquisition of the land for the library on the southwest corner of the area makes it now a part of the owners association. The City of Castle Pines has worked closely with the other owners in the association to develop plans and to gather ideas that might be mutually beneficial to businesses and the city.

“Based on community feedback, the city council formed a ‘business district visioning’ committee,” said Sam Bishop, community development director for the City of Castle Pines. “This group included property and business owners within the commercial area to create a shared vision statement to provide the foundation for future plans, policies, and decisions for the organizational structure, design, economic structure and promotion of the business zone district. The committee helped build consensus for future planning initiatives and helped strengthen community cohesion.”

Plans, if they are implemented, will happen in a phased fashion over the next 20 years, with the Village Square area being the first part of the city to undergo changes.

“We are working closely with property owners to examine the feasibility of making these plans happen,” said Huff. “There are a lot of moving parts, but city staff and city council have been working on this for a while. Our end objective, [which is] to increase revenue to business and property owners and also then increase sales tax revenue, is beneficial for all parties.”

To follow the progress and for updates on the project, visit www.castlepinesgov.com.

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