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Controversial 234-Acre Uplands Development In Westminster Breaks Ground

A rendering of the Uplands village center

After nearly a decade of regulatory battles, the controversial 234-acre development known as Uplands in southern Westminster broke ground on Sept. 27 as protesters called on local leaders to protect the farmland that the project will be built on. 

Uplands is billed as a medium-density neighborhood that will include more than 2,300 affordable homes, 34 acres of parks and open space, walking trails and other public amenities for residents and the surrounding community, according to the project’s website.

There will also be about 300 deed-restricted units for low-income renters and seniors, or about 13% of the total housing stock, The Denver Post reported. The project, spearheaded by Oread Capital and Development, is expected to bring more than 5,400 people to Westminster, a city that is already home to more than 114,500, according to census data. 

The full build-out of Uplands, located between Lowell and Federal boulevards and 84th and 88th avenues in Westminster, is estimated to take between 15 and 20 years. It is one of the largest developments underway in Colorado.

Local leaders like Gov. Jared Polis and Westminster Mayor Nancy McNally gathered with developers at the groundbreaking to celebrate the project. But they were flanked by protesters who said Uplands wasn't in line with the neighborhood’s goals. 

“This project will be an inspiration for other parts of Colorado, and indeed across the country,” Polis told the Westminster Window. “It’s exactly the kind of development we need more of.”

The battle to get to the groundbreaking has been going on since 2021, when the Uplands project was making its way through the Westminster City Council. Westword reported at the time that the Westminster City Council held three hearings that lasted for a total of 18 hours about the project. 

Residents also expressed concerns about the project creating an urban heat island in the community and said it could disrupt skyline views of Denver. A group called Westminster Save the Farm organized opposition but was unable to convince the Westminster City Council to stop the project. Ultimately, it was approved by a 5-2 vote in the early morning hours of Dec. 21, 2021. 

The same sentiments surfaced at the groundbreaking, with one resident telling the Window that the project was “basically rubber-stamped for the convenience of the developer.”

Another Westminster resident expressed concerns about the project disrupting the character of the surrounding neighborhood and destroying an open space that had been a part of the community for almost a century, the Westminster Window reported. 

Oread Capital and Development President Jeff Handlin addressed the pushback against the project by saying that the land was originally slated to become a housing complex when Bellevue College owned the land in the early 20th century. However, the project was shut down during World War I after the college switched to an all-male enrollment, the Post reported. 

McNally added that developers made several compromises during the approval process, including a reduction of the original density and agreeing to maintain views of the Rocky Mountains. 

“The Uplands has listened,” McNally told the Window. “They heard the community. They heard us as a council. I can’t thank you enough for caring about the community.”