Developer of Loveland mall presents long-term vision

By Michael Davidson

BROOMFIELD — The “Tech Center of the North” might be coming to town.

McWHINNEY, a development company based in Loveland, presented an ambitious vision of Broomfield’s future to the City Council this week. The company hopes to build a mix of homes, offices and retail outlets on 937 acres it owns at the southwest corner of Interstate 25 and the Northwest Parkway.

McWHINNEY’s proposal sets aside 175 acres for an applied research center. Company executive Kim Perry said the center would capitalize on its proximity to the University of Colorado, Colorado State University and other research institutions.

It also would take advantage of private companies moving into the area and the state’s efforts to spark “the new energy economy.”

“We think there are opportunities in both the public and private sector,” Perry said. “We are already seeing activity as the result of the relocation of ConocoPhillips and the state initiatives.”

The city has wanted to build a project since the mid-¤’90s, Assistant City and County Manager Kevin Standbridge said. The city’s 1995 master plan envisioned a mix of retail outlets and offices on the site, creating “the economic engine on the north metro area,” he said.

McWHINNEY purchased the land six months ago and in May began meeting with city leaders to discuss ideas. Along with the research center, the plan calls for 7,313 residential units and 17.2 million square feet of commercial office and retail space. Roads and trails would link it to the neighboring Anthem residential development and several proposed mixed-use projects to the north.

If all the plans are realized, the I-25-Northwest Parkway area would go from fields to a semi-urban area.

“We believe that this project is strategically located to be a business, commercial and residential focal point for the north Denver metropolitan area,” Standbridge said.

The City Council was enthusiastic about the proposal.

McWHINNEY has eyed the property for years. The company researched sites in several states before determining the most promising location was in its backyard.

“I really am serious when I say this is the best property in the Western U.S. for what we want to do,” company co-founder Troy McWhinney said.

When Councilman Brian Kenyon asked if McWHINNEY had tenants lined up for the site, McWHINNEY said the company is in confidential negotiations with potential clients.

McWHINNEY said the plan won’t come to fruition for another 10 to 15 years. Detailed plans will have to be created and approved by the city before any construction starts, and events beyond McWHINNEY’s control, such as a worsening economy, could cause delays.

The company has experience building and managing similar developments in Colorado. Centerra, a 3,000-acre mixed-use development in Loveland, was built and is managed by the company.

Centerra includes the Promenade Shops, the Medical Center of the Rockies, housing, a sculpture park and 275 acres of open space.