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Neighbors split on Castle Rock's development boom

Mayor: Growth helps fund amenities
Posted at 2:13 AM, Sep 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-07 04:13:46-04

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. -- Like nearly every other city along the Front Range, Castle Rock is booming.

Everywhere you look, there are signs of growth.

Work crews recently leveled three buildings south of Town Hall, including a liquor store, oil change center, and a brake and wheel alignment shop, in preparation for a seven-story condo/retail/parking complex, which will be called Encore.

The town plans to kick in $9-million, so it can own half of the 600 parking spots to be included in the project.

Mayor Jason Gray says it's a good investment.

"Parking can be a problem downtown," he said, "especially for big events, so that's going to help a lot."

He says the money will be recouped over a 30-year period.

Gray said Encore and the town's Festival Park, which opened in June of 2018, will draw more people downtown.

"For the longest time, most businesses downtown were just surviving," he said, "and it's time for our businesses downtown to start thriving."

Many residents agree.

One, who simply gave her name as Kate, said the town is managing growth right.

"They're preserving a lot of the walkability," she said.

When asked if Encore's planned seven stories is too tall, Kate pointed to a six-story development across the street and asked, "how tall is that one?"

She then added, "I don't think they're doing a disservice by building up, because we still have places to walk, and green spaces."

Other residents see things differently.

One, who declined to go on camera, said the new multi-story buildings detract from the charm of downtown.

A former resident, whose family moved out of Castle Rock to get away from the growth, called it metastatic, or cancer-like.

"It's very disturbing to see all the natural beauty that was once a huge part of Castle Rock turn into concrete," Deanna Meyer said. "I find it horrific."

Meyer told Denver7 she thinks the growth is irresponsible.

"Castle Rock is (getting ready) to recycle their toilet water into drinking water," she said. "Just how far are they thinking ahead for our children and their children."

Mayor's Response to Growth Opponents

The Mayor acknowledged that not everyone is on board with growth.

"I think what we try to do with that kind of push back," he said, "is lean on the quality of life in Castle Rock, and on how some of the benefits outweigh some of the things that can be annoying,"

He said the town is planning for the future.

Gray said the current population is just over 70,000 and that at build-out, Castle Rock will have between 120,000 to 140,000 residents.

He said developers have entitlements to build that were negotiated decades ago.

He added, that without growth, Castle Rock residents wouldn't be able to enjoy amenities like Philip S. Miller Park, with its hiking trails, play areas and adventure activities like zip-lining, nor would they be able to enjoy Rhyolite Regional Park with is climbing wall, multi-use sports fields, multi-use trails and picnic pavilions.

"Without growth, we wouldn't have the hospital," he said, referring to Castle Rock Adventist Hospital in the Meadows.

More Growth on the Way

Castle Rock's City Council recently approved a development plan for a new neighborhood in the Meadows, near Coachline and Wolfensberger Roads.

It will include 57 new single family homes on 38 acres.

"They're doing 75-percent open space on that development," Gray said. "They're only required to do 25-percent."

Gray said growth is great as long as the town maintains it's quality of life.

He said when the Meadows master plan was first approved, the Castle Rock Development Company "negotiated for 10,500 homes, give or take."

"They have an entitlement for that many homes," he said. "Right now they're just over 6,000 homes. They're not going to reach the 10,000 goal, which is just fine, but they're going to get close."

He said the developers have done a good job, often providing more open space than required.

"I think the developers have heard us," he said, adding, "No matter how much we grow and how much we change, I think our quality of life is sustainable."

Quiet Zones

Gray said he wants to make that quality of life even better, by working with BNSF and Union Pacific Railroads, to bring quiet zones to Castle Rock.

"As long as I've been in town, we've been talking about doing something with the trains," he said, "but it hasn't been feasible yet."

He said trains blare their horns three times at each of the three crossings in town, and that the horns are very loud.

"A lot of business owners can't be on the phone when the horns are blaring," he said. "It virtually shakes some of their windows."

Gray said they hope to have quiet zones approved and in place, (with the appropriate gates and channeling devices, to prevent cars and pedestrians from going around the gates,) in the next 24 to 36 months.

Community Events

He touted events like First Friday's Artrageous Interactive Art & Music Experience which draws big crowds to Festival Park.

He said there is a free art festival over the weekend, called Colorado Artfest at Castle Rock.

"We're popular for a reason," he said. "There's a lot of great things going on here."