The Canyons development begins to take shape
This aerial photo taken looking west shows the development progess happening in the City of Castle Pines on the east side of I-25. The grading is initial infrastructure for the first residential component of The Canyons, being developed by Shea Homes.
By Daniel Williams; photo by Bob Wiebold
Motorists roaring along I-25 might not have noticed, but there is something productive taking place east of the freeway between Hess Road and Happy Canyon Road – the hustle and bustle of progress. After years of dreaming and planning and navigating regulatory and zoning hurdles, big yellow trucks have begun to dot the previously untamed landscape known as The Canyons, the 3,343-acre mixed-use project being developed by Shea Homes and North Canyons LLLP.
“Those trucks are installing the infrastructure,” said Mary Hart, project coordinator of The Canyons. “They began this spring by grading for roads and clearing the way for future development.”
The winding road
When the big yellow trucks finally revved up and began scraping and excavating the land, it was the culmination of a long-held dream for the developers. The Alpert family has held the land for more than 30 years, according to Hart, and received annexation approval from the City of Castle Pines in 2009. In December 2015, Shea Homes purchased 1,270 acres of the property and will oversee the development of 2,000 single and multifamily homes from a variety of builders.
Skyler Hager, community development manager with Shea Homes, said the residences featured in The Canyons will run from starter homes to custom luxury estates. Construction on housing is expected to begin later this year and new homes are expected to hit the market sometime in 2019.
As part of the agreement with Shea, North Canyons LLLP retained the remaining land and could build an additional 500 homes as part of a 2.1 million-square-foot mixed-use development. To put the scope of The Canyons into perspective, the City of Castle Pines has some 3,600 existing residential units, while commercial space at nearby Park Meadows Retail Resort holds 1.5 million square feet.
In early May, Hart, along with Hager and Blake Calvert, an engineer with Core Consultants, led a contingent of Castle Pines leaders on a project site tour of The Canyons. The group included Castle Pines City Council members Deborah Mulvey, Ben Price, Roger Hudson, and Tracy Engerman; City Attorney Linda Michow; Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amy Shanahan; and staff members from The Castle Pines Connection.
A half mile east from I-25, the van carried the group to a graded plateau. Hart handed out topographical maps and everyone spilled out of the van and began taking in the scenery. Someone noted a lone antelope at the base of one of the canyons. In one direction, cars zipped by on the freeway. In another, the big yellow trucks rumbled along, moving earth from their path.
“Where you are standing right now,” Hart announced, “is the heart of the commercial space.” Someone then asked what tenants would be here one day.
“Right now, we’re exploring what this mixed-use commercial area would look like,” Hart said, adding that the selection process on the commercial side is in its early stages with the developer studying a full range of hotels, restaurants, retail and entertainment uses. “But one of our main objectives is working with the city to help create a vision that everyone can be happy with” (see related story page 7).
Whatever specific tenants move in, one aspect of the project will not change – a commitment to keeping plenty of wide open spaces. Per its agreement with the City of Castle Pines, about a third of The Canyons – some 1,500 acres – will remain open space. A portion of that will be set aside for parks and trails. Other swaths of land, the steeper slopes and the oak-covered hillsides, will remain undeveloped and preserved for drainage purposes.
Before climbing back into the van to continue the tour, Hart said, “We’re keeping an open mind on the type of commercial use we’ll see in The Canyons, but we’re looking for opportunities that will create jobs and support the community.”