LITTLETON, Colo. — A debate over the future of Aspen Grove in Littleton has inflamed passions of residents both in favor and against its potential redesign and revamp.
The owners of the shopping complex presented their plan to city council on Monday followed by a lengthy public comment.
Aspen Grove has been a major retail draw for the city, but sales have declined over the past few years driven in part by the COVID-19 pandemic. The owners are seeking a new zoning permit for the lot that would allow mixed-use housing with retail in the more than 250,000 square foot space.
Proponents say it will revitalize the area and reverse some of the blight that the property has seen in its southern parking lot.
"We want to create and return Aspen Grove to the vital property that it once was when it was built 20 years ago," said Kevin Gerrity, the managing director of Gerrity Group LLC, which owns the property. "Our proposal is finding that new balance for Aspen Grove so it can survive as a retail property in perpetuity."
The proposal includes a redesign of the southern parking lot and some of the stores to include residential streets and curbside parking. It would also feature up to 2,000 rental units, including apartments, town homes and multifamily units. The owners say mixed-use zoning is vital for the well being of the retail space.
But opponents say whatever gains come from the proposed plans are not enough to outweigh the potential downfalls, like increased traffic.
"I think they need to handle the problem that we already have with traffic before allowing 2,000 units to go in," Cindy Herb said.
Herb lives across the street from Aspen Grove near one of the town's busiest intersections at West Mineral Avenue and Santa Fe Drive. She sometimes waits more than 10 minutes at the light to pass through. That intersection will be shared with the new, potentially multi-building complex.
Though the company is asking for a change in zoning, no plan is set in stone yet. The owners say it could take more than a decade to complete the plans and many aspects of a proposal would also need to be approved by the city.