SMPSC Top Ten Takeaways: North Metro Area Economic Development Luncheon

The North Denver Metro Area is booming with no sign of slowing down. This brings many development opportunities for the A/E/C industry. On June 14th, over 85 SMPS members and guests attended the North Metro Economic Development luncheon to hear representatives from Westminster, Erie, Broomfield, and Thornton. They spoke to their expansion plans and how they will foster continued growth in their areas to benefit both the residents and the industry who will build it.

In 2014, Money Magazine ranked Westminster 11th on the list of America’s “Hottest Towns.” Today, it’s still “hot” with plans in motion to repurpose the former Westminster Mall into a “Downtown Westminster.”  This development area lies directly west of I-36 and Sheridan and the large Rapid Bus Transit Station. Westminster Station, located at 72nd and Lowell (the first stop on RTD Light Rail’s B Line) and only 11 minutes to Union Station, is the next place of development. The current idea is for five mixed-use buildings for 120 market rate residential units, 70 affordable units, and ~49,000 sq ft of commercial/office space.


Erie was founded in 1885. In 2017, it has plans to increase its residents’ lifestyle, rooftops, and retail spaces – driving more population and revenue. Residential communities are currently being developed, both single and mixed-use/multi-family. Many larger retailers have moved to the area and even more are planned, increasing employment opportunities for its current and future residents. Specifically, a 40,000 sq ft free standing emergency room and urgent care center is beginning construction later this summer. There is also a plan to refocus Downtown Erie as a hub for businesses and residents.


The City of Broomfield ranked 9th for fastest growing city in the US in 2015 according to the US Census Bureau and 1st for places to live in the US in 2016 by 24/7 Wall Street and USA Today. It is also the second largest multi-unit market in our region due to its draw of large corporations. They have many plans for redevelopment and new development focusing on proximity to public transit, entertainment, retail, residential, and commercial spaces. The RTD Bus/Rapid Transit Center by the new Arista development is one of the heaviest used stations in the Denver metro area, and Broomfield is now being called the “DTC of the North.”


Thornton is currently the 6th largest city in CO and has $350 million dollars in commercial projects breaking ground this year alone! They have passed a law for expedited development review for commercial projects – as long as the proposed projects fit within the zoning regulations, no public hearings will be required. Large retailers and corporations have plans for commercial and retail build out in the next couple years including Top Golf and a large Premium Outlet Mall. The average income of its residents is $104K/year and the majority of residents are highly educated, making it ideal for a qualified workforce to support corporate growth with the spending power to support future retail projects.

All four of these Northern cities have some common development themes. Here are the top ten takeaways:

  1. Residents want more retailers, restaurants, and entertainment sources.
  2. Residents want mixed used space. They want to be able to live and work in communities and be close to public transportation and entertainment.
  3. Residents want more convenient healthcare options. This is an emerging trend – especially within the larger Denver metro area and these four northern cities aren’t far behind. Expansions of existing northern hospitals or new construction for free standing emergency room/urgent care centers and/or hospitals are in the works.
  4. Large corporations and retailers are moving up north where there is land still available. Existing players are expanding their current campuses as well.
  5. Employment is a large driver in the North Metro Area economic development plans. With the move of large retailers and corporations, more jobs will be created and a much larger workforce will be needed.
  6. Relocation will be a major source of new residents into all four of these cities.
  7. More multi-family and other residential housing units are being developed to make room for the anticipated population increases.
  8. Malls are not dead, but the retail space is changing to creating higher development, transient-oriented, mixed-use spaces where residents will have access to everything they need.
  9. These northern Colorado cities have invested in water resources. All four have taken precautions to ensure that current and future residents will have water and all focus on conservation efforts.
  10. Transportation is a huge issue, especially with the rapidly growing Denver Metro area and not enough tax dollars and government funding to go around. The northern cities have all formed partnerships with each other and with RTD to expand the light rail even further north and west to meet the needs of all growing populations.

It is an exciting time for the North Metro area.  Economic development plans are in process in various stages of planning, design, and implementation. Economies and industries are shifting rapidly, but with the right projects and partners, these cities are being built to withstand future changes.