By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – Hundreds of neighbors in Centennial have come together to push back against plans to turn an old department store into an apartment building. The initial plan was to turn the 10 acre site into a 10-story apartment building.

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“This is a near and dear area to us,” said Ron Phelps, who formed Neighbors at Streets of SouthGlenn after learning about the proposal for the shuttered Sears store at the old SouthGlenn Mall. “It’s very much a suburban neighborhood and a high density, multi-family answer here just doesn’t seem to be compatible at all with area.”

CBS4’s Shaun Boyd interviews Ron Phelps. (credit: CBS)

He says they aren’t looking to limit growth like some communities; they are looking to influence it.

“Development needs to happen here. It needs to happen for the vitality of the neighborhood, the city, the sales tax revenue,” he said.

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Phelps says the community is especially concerned about the impact 800 potentially new apartment units would have on traffic.

Mayor Stephanie Piko says the city is listening. The entire redevelopment of the old mall she says reflects the community’s vision.

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“The city of Centennial and the city council members and myself have listened to what everybody is saying. We understand what they want, but there hasn’t even been an application submitted yet formally.”

Piko, like many metro area mayors, is struggling to satisfy the desires of the community with the demands of growth, which include more housing.

“With prosperity you have the plus side of it, and you have the negative factor of it, and so you have to find the balance.”

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The Streets of SouthGlenn – which replaced the former mall – reflect that balance. Neighbors want to make sure the last 10 acres of the redevelopment will too. Phelps says, in addition to a mixed-use development, Neighbors at Streets of SouthGlenn also would like some kind of cultural arts facility and park space.

“Many want to maintain the feel here, but at the same time recognize that development needs to move forward, progress happens and so change is part of that as well.”

The city plans to make a decision by this fall.

Shaun Boyd