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Town center emerging on C-470 near Red Rocks

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By Vicky Gits

A massive development that aims to tie the commercial potential of a new C470 interchange at Alameda Parkway with a luxury Tuscan-style housing development is taking shape on the bluff east of Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

When it opens to the public as the Parade of Homes from July 26 to Labor Day, Solterra aims to change the image of the historic Rooney Valley by attracting tourists and eventually corporate campuses, retail spaces and jobs.

“We realized creating a door to the Rooney Valley on the north would provide jobs for Jeffco residents from Ken-Caryl, Columbine and Golden and pull those corporate primary jobs to the Rooney Valley,” said Jefferson County Commissioner Kevin McCasky.

The $22 million interchange is expected to open in July, making possible 145 acres of commercial buildings, 1,200 homes, a “lifestyle” retail center and thousands of jobs.

In a couple of years, a 500,000-square-foot retail center on 60 acres will begin to emerge at the new Alameda interchange. Expect to see “junior box” stores such as T.J. Maxx, Circuit City, Lowe’s and PetSmart, said Bill Jenkins, principal of the Laramie Co., the leasing and marketing agent.

“There’s a lot of shopping on Wadsworth, which is extremely congested,” said Jenkins. “The location on C-470 opens a good amount of the trade area, including Evergreen and Conifer. It’s a very convenient first stop.”

The Laramie Co. is looking at the idea of moving the Dinosaur Ridge Visitors Center farther west but still on former Rooney family property.

Jeffco magnet area

The interchange area and the commercial district, about 3 miles north of U.S. 285, are mostly in Jefferson County and are expected to have a major impact on the county’s ability to attract and retain businesses.

McCasky has backed the plan for a new interchange and commercial center since he ran for the commission in 2003.

“It opens an area of the county already zoned commercial and ready to be developed,” McCasky said. “It’s right next to the mountains, has open space and new housing for people who are looking to relocate.”

McCasky envisions high-tech, renewable energy and aerospace companies building corporate campuses in the Rooney Valley, close to the mountains and near Interstate 70.

The joint project involved collaboration among Jefferson County, Jefferson County Open Space, Lakewood, Morrison and the Greentree Metro District, landowner Greg Stevinson and Carma Development, which brought in water and is responsible for the housing and the Parade of Homes.

Ultimately, some 1,200 homes will be built on the slopes that stretch from West Jewell to Yale avenues.

Little bit of Italy

Nearly complete is the Solterra Retreat, which is on top of the ridge east of C-470 and has views of Red Rocks Amphitheatre and the foothills.

The building is designed to look exactly like roughhewn rock structures of Tuscany’s hill country, with a four-story, Italian-style bell tower, red-tile roofs, individually stacked stone blocks and hammered trusses.

A terraced patio is in place, but the infinity pool has yet to be installed. Landscaping is in progress, and workers are planting trees and shrubs.

Down the hill from the clubhouse, one can see eight homes under construction surrounded by an armada of utility vans and heavy equipment.

Those homes start at $1 million. Single-family homes by Cardel Homes are priced in the mid-$500,000s. Infinity and Wall homes are also building in the area. Patio homes and townhomes are planned.

Among the attractions developers hope will lure homebuyers is the open space of Green Mountain to the north and an off-leash dog park.

Jenkins said companies attracted by the views and the access to C470 have begun to show interest in the office component.

“A lot of people embrace the culture of the west side of Jefferson County. There’s so much of the outdoors that people on the west side like. The views are fantastic. Believe me, in downtown Denver I don’t have those views.”

BREAKOUT

Rooney Valley facts

Solterra: 1,200 homes, including patio, single-family, townhomes and luxury apartments. (in Lakewood)

Office and commercial: 145 acres, with 60 acres breaking ground by 2010. Rooney Valley Ranch Town Center on the drawing board.

Alameda and C-470 Interchange: $22 million, including a $6 million loan from Jefferson County

Parade of Homes: (under construction) eight luxury homes; open July 26 to Labor Day

Retreat at Solterra: Clubhouse, spa and entrance to the Parade of Homes.

Amenity: 4-acre off-leash dog park