Evans Avenue to see new day

‘Perfect storm’ helped pave way for Kmart site to be redeveloped


For nearly seven years, a large property off of East Evans Avenue and South Monaco Parkway has sat empty. The former Kmart building has been an eyesore for residents and city officials alike. But now that a local developer has closed on the property, people are hopeful for what the future might hold.

The sale of the building, located at 2150 S. Monaco St. Parkway, was for $10.5 million, according to county records, and included the parking lot. Forum Real Estate Group, a Glendale-based developer that has a resume of residential and commercial projects, was the buyer.

Teresa Hanson, the vice president of brand strategy with Forum, said the company recently closed on the land acquisition and is working on finishing the entitlements process with the city. That could take more than a year, she said. Because of the long timeline ahead, staff at Forum have been trying to think of different ways to use the parking lot portion of the property in the meantime.

“We’re going to want to engage with the community as much as we can,” Hanson said. “We’re trying to look at different ways to activate the site while we’re in this 12-18 month process.”

Some of the ideas so far have been to host farmers markets, Christmas tree sales or food trucks.

Because the property has sat empty for so many years, Hanson said Forum will likely demolish the building and start fresh on the nearly 13-acre piece of land. Because they don’t plan on using the building, the company has considered offering to use it as training space for first responders or firefighters.

Since it is so early in the process, Forum has not made any official decisions on what to build there. Hanson said it could be a combination of retail and residential and include some green space.

Kendra Black, the councilmember representing District 4 where the property is, said she was excited to hear about the sale. For a long time the empty Kmart building was one of the top complaints or inquiries she would receive in her office. Black said she was “looking at a lot of different routes to move the needle,” including a blight study.

Part of the problem was that until earlier this year, Sears Holdings — the parent company that runs both Sears and Kmart — was still paying rent on the building, Black said. The Kmart closed in 2013, and Black added that there was no motivation for the owners to sell since rent was still coming in. It wasn’t until Sears Holdings declared bankruptcy in October 2018 that there was the potential to get a new buyer into the building.

Nancy Barlow, the president of the East Evans Business Association, said the bankruptcy created the “perfect storm” for the owner of the building to sell to Forum. Barlow added that business owners from the association were “relieved” to hear about the sale, and are hoping that new development happening on that property will create a ripple effect for other potential developments. More developments in the area will bring more people to shop the businesses there.

“I think this is just the beginning of what’s to come,” Barlow said. “We need the attention badly.”

Black agreed, saying “that section of Evans all the way to I-25 is really just not very nice.” She’s also hopeful for more development to come in once this project gets started. Walkability is also one of her goals for any potential projects that Forum builds there.

Building green space

Both Barlow and Maggie Janco from the Development Review Committee of the Cook Park Neighborhood, said they are hopeful for some open or green space when the project goes underway.

Because of the new green roof laws in Denver, Black said Forum is required to have some sort of green space. The Goldsmith Gulch is also on the property for stormwater detention, and Black said it cannot be covered up. Barlow is hoping the gulch can be opened up and used as a green asset for the community.

Access to the High Line Canal, a 71-mile trail system that follows its namesake canal through several Colorado counties and cities, is nearby to the property. Hanson, who lives in the area herself, said that green space will likely be part of whatever Forum decides to do with the property.

“Part of our goals are to do something that gives a little bit of beauty and some greenery in a little bit of a concrete jungle,” she said.

Hanson said that as they get closer to deciding on what to do with the property, Forum will reach out to the community for ideas and input. A few residents have already started reaching out after the news of the sale, she added. The District 4 office will work to get any information out to residents living nearby to the project, Black said.

Although Janco is excited for the project, she and her neighbors in Cook Park also have concerns about how large developments will impact traffic in the area. She’s also hopeful that the project avoids strip malls and chain stores, something that’s already common in the area.

Hanson said that the staff at Forum see many of the same possibilities as the people who have begun reaching out to them about the property. Because the area is so highly trafficked, she added that the property has the potential for strong curb appeal.

“We’re going to do our due diligence and do our homework,” she said. “It’s going to be a fun project to work on.”


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