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Southeast Suburbs Still Face Growing Pains

Denver

The keys to the future of Denver’s southeast suburban corridor are job growth, better transit, and meeting the desires of Millennials for new workspace and living arrangements. On all three counts, the suburbs are going in the right direction, our speakers at the Future of the Southeast Suburbs said yesterday. But there are serious challenges ahead.

Southeast Suburbs Still Face Growing Pains

Growth in the southeast suburbs is hot, our speakers said, including major multifamily, office and retail development (a stark contrast to five years ago where there was no growth anywhere). But that growth comes with its own set of headaches. Such as keeping up with the demand for new infrastructure, including transit. Our speakers included Transwestern SVP Bill Lawrence, who moderated; Charles Schwab SVP Glenn Cooper; City of Denver transportation director Crissy Fanganello; Mayor Jim Gunning of Lone Tree; Holland Partner Group senior development director Scott Menefee; Coventry Development Corp EVP Keith Simon; and Prime West Cos president Steve Clarke.

Southeast Suburbs Still Face Growing Pains

SKB's Rich Morean, Transwestern's David Shaprio and Coventry's Keith Simon. A major up-and-coming challenge is congestion, which is significant in the city and growing in the suburbs, our speakers explained. One difficulty is the difference between what people say they want, and what they do. For example, everyone says they want more bikeable roads—except the roads they want to drive on. Americans don’t want to behave like Europeans when it comes to transit. (Or anything else. USA!) Also, there’s only so much money available in the metro area for expansion and improvements to transit infrastructure—and not enough cooperation among the various stakeholders.

Southeast Suburbs Still Face Growing Pains

Transwestern’s Bill Lawrence and colleague Craig Paton. Despite the challenges growth poses, some aspects of transit have been a success. The expansion of the RTD light rail system into the southeast suburbs has been a major spur in development, our speakers noted. Take Lone Tree as an example. It’s evolving into a major edge city, and has seen a lot of new projects: Schwab’s new campus, the new Cabela’s, which is a destination retailer, and the expansion of the area's medical facilities. Light rail was a factor in attracting all of that development.

Southeast Suburbs Still Face Growing Pains

Another reason the future’s bright for the suburbs is because many Millennials will decide in the coming decades that they want to live and work here. Landlords are already developing and redeveloping space to accommodate the demand for open floors and more amenities that Millennials and their employers want. Snapped: Sponsor HITT Contracting SVP Kevin Ott, along with Rick Mason and Jack Thysens. Kevin tells us that HITT, which is coming up on its third anniversary, has done over 200 projects since its founding, representing more than 1M SF. That includes its 100th LEED certified project, Tysons Metro Center I in metro DC.