By Conor McCue

DENVER, Colo. (CBS4) – Avalanche and Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke has new plans to drastically redevelop the parking lots around Ball Arena, according to a Large Development Review application submitted to the City and County of Denver.

Business Den was first to report on the plan submitted by Kroenke Sports and Entertainment (KSE). The proposal focuses on transforming 55 acres between Auraria Parkway and Elitch Gardens into a multi-use district. It includes no details about any changes to the 23-year-old arena.

(credit CBS)

“It’s rare to find 55-acres under a single, visionary ownership in a city with such potential,” Matt Mahoney, senior vice president of KSE said in a statement to CBS4. “This site embraces the goals outlined in community-led, adopted plans by the city, notably the Denver Downtown Area Plan Amendment and Central Platte Valley – Auraria Standards and Guidelines, including recognizing the pressing need for affordable housing. As a result, we have the potential to generate a truly unique regional destination characterized as a mixed-use neighborhood that maintains Ball Arena as its centerpiece.”

Inside nearby Brooklyn’s at Ball Arena, the focus is NHL playoff hockey, but not every day is as busy or lucrative throughout the year.

“It’s pretty slow when there’s not an event,” said owner Dave Keefe.

According to Keefe, event nights make up about 85 percent of his revenue. That’s why new plans to redevelop the sea of parking spaces outside excite him.

(credit CBS)

“It’ll become 365 days, rather than just event driven, and that will be really nice,” Keefe said. “You won’t have to worry about summer times or when the Nuggets or Avs don’t make the playoffs.”

The new plan for review aims to transform the area outside Ball Arena into millions of square feet of housing, office and retail spaces. At least 12 percent of the area would be reserved for parks, open space, and public use, the document states.

The proposal fits within a nationwide trend to develop multi-use spaces at or near entertainment and sporting venues. In Denver, Coors Field-adjacent McGregor Square is an example.

“That area and the area around Mile High Stadium, these are the next frontiers for urban planning,” said Darrin Duber-Smith, a senior professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

(credit: Kroenke Sports & Entertainment)

“Is there a need for all of this extra retail and all of this extra space? Do we really need to expand the footprint of downtown Denver? I’m not sure if there’s a real necessity there.”

If it moves forward, the project would neighbor Kroenke’s redevelopment of Elitch Gardens, which was given the greenlight by city council in 2018. In this case, rezoning would also be required.

Together with neighboring redevelopment, the two properties may expand the size of downtown Denver by up to 40%, the document says.

“The city has to look at it as a win-win because it’s an area the city doesn’t control, and it’s an area that clearly could use some tender loving care,” Duber-Smith said. “The only thing I’d be concerned about is parking.”

According to the plan submitted to the city, the full project could take 20 to 25 years to complete. At Brooklyn’s, Keefe calls it a project worth waiting for.

“When you bring people to live in the neighborhood and work in the neighborhood, it can only make things better,” Keefe said.

(credit: Kroenke Sports & Entertainment)

The city has not completed its review of the proposal, which is required for complex developments or developments that are more than 5 acres in size. Any rezoning issues must be approved by the Denver City Council.

A spokesperson for the project tells CBS4 community engagement meetings will begin sometime this month or in early June.

“We are launching a broad community outreach and engagement process to gain input from neighbors, area business owners and stakeholders. We are looking forward to sharing our vision for this project,” Mahoney said.

Conor McCue