City of Denver officially acquires land needed to build National Western Center

5 of 38 properties acquired with eminent domain

DENVER -- As the city grows, there are growing pains that come with the development, the construction – and in the cases of I-70 and the National Western Complex’s expansion – the businesses and families that have to move out.

Plans for the future National Western Center are moving right along, with the city of Denver officially taking over the land needed to build it into a bigger and better entertainment and education venue.

There's at least one business that remains along Brighton Blvd between 47th and Race Court, the area acquired by the city.

Denver7 spoke with Brian Ruden, the owner of the Starbuds Marijuana Dispensary, about his hope for the future. His neon green “Open” sign is seen from the street.

"So this here on the corner was a grocery store. Obviously that's all boarded up," said Ruden.

There's little more telling than the corner of Brighton Blvd and 47th Ave, where Ruden’s business is located. The communities like Elyria-Swansea and Globeville have been hit hard as the city moves forward with plans to expand the National Western Complex and I-70.

"Starbuds is really the only business on the block that's open right now and still thriving. It's like being on an island."

The city council passed a bill officially acquiring several blocks for the future National Western Center that do not include the land Ruden’s business sits on. Most buildings and homes around him sit vacant and boarded-up.

"It's tough no matter whether you're a business or a resident. When you're forced to leave an area where you live or where you conduct business, I mean that's tough. I hope the city compensated them fairly," Ruden said.

The city acquired 38 properties total as part of the National Western Center. According to the venue's spokesperson, only five properties (4 businesses and 1 residence) were forced under eminent domain, by which governments can take private property from a landowner for public use. It's unclear how much the residents or business owners were compensated, but some renters even went on to purchase homes as a result of the amount paid.

As for Ruden, he's holding out hope.

"It's tough as a local business to survive through the construction period, but hopefully in the end it will be OK,” said Ruden. “The hope is that, you know, we’ve taken one step backwards and we take two-to-three steps forward when this area is fully redeveloped. We think it will be a phenomenal location in the future.”

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