DCI had the great opportunity to host a Downtown Institute in Aurora last month. Dynamic presentations from Stephanie Troller at DOLA, David Leavitt-D’Agnostio from the Small Business Association, and Aurora’s Urban Renewal Manager Andrea Amonick left attendees informed and excited.
Aurora is one of Colorado’s largest cities and boasts a rich history with many unique commercial corridors. Through unique public-private partnerships, Aurora has harnessed tools for urban renewal and business engagement to shape a vibrant Colfax avenue through arts investment, collaborative partnerships, impactful events, and a thriving business community.
Some of the most exciting changes in Aurora started with the redevelopment of the Fitzsimons Army Hospital. Built in 1917 to treat World War I Army patients, the hospital and was placed on the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list in 1995, causing stirs of uncertainty over jobs, economic vitality, and Aurora’s future. A year later, however, the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority was created to imagine and govern the evolution of this historic medical center into a progressive biosciences innovation hub.
The City of Aurora adopted several Urban Renewal areas, beginning in 2001, to encourage development within the existing medical campus as well as the surrounding areas. Today, the Fitzsimons complex holds the University of Colorado Hospital, Colorado Children’s Hospital, General’s Park, and other medical facilities. There are 22,000 new jobs from this campus alone with much more development on the way.
Plans are underway for the Colorado Science and Technology Park (CSTP), a 6.5 million square foot development with laboratory and office spaces. This joint venture from the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority, City of Aurora, University of Colorado, and University Physicians, Inc. is expected to create 45,000 new jobs when completed and will anchor a new transit stop on Montview Boulevard.
Completed development along previously blighted areas of Colfax Avenue has helped to enhance the local area, including ground floor shops near Fitzsimons, Corporex Office Building, and Springhill Suites. Future development south of Colfax, however, has many Aurora residents even more excited.
A 30,000 square foot conference center and full service hotel will serve the Fitzsimons area and is set to be surrounded by mixed use developments featuring housing, commercial, and retail spaces.
Concurrent to the massive developments in medical and biosciences, Aurora has invested significantly in in its own Cultural Arts District with redevelopment ongoing since 2002. Aurora visitors can catch a show at the Vintage Theatre, check out a book at the MLK Library, or simply stroll through the city admiring the many public art exhibitions and local galleries.
Soon, Aurora guests and residents will be thrilled by an adaptive reuse development of the Stanley Aviation plant. This former industrial site and brownfield area will be resurrected as the Stanley Marketplace, an urban market concept with unique retail, offices, a beer garden, outdoor recreation, and an event plaza.
In Aurora, redevelopment opportunities have been popping up throughout the city from cooperative partnerships. These new developments, coupled with expansions in the light rail system, continue to make Aurora an exciting place to visit, work, and live!
Content from this article relied on a presentation from Andrea Amonick. You can find her presentation, Aurora: Urban Unexpected, on DCI’s website here.