GES Coalition Maps Out What It Wants on ‘Triangle’ Land

By Eric Heinz

For several years, residents in the Globeville, Elyria and Swansea neighborhoods have sought to reclaim Denver land that is leased by the National Western Center in an area known as the “Triangle.”

The Triangle is roughly along Brighton Boulevard between I-70 and a little past 48th Avenue with the railroads making up the hypotenuse border, based on the land The GES Coalition and its Tierra Collectiva are trying to repurpose in the Elyria neighborhood area. The plans include developing housing, commercial spaces and community gathering areas.

Alfonso Espino of The GES Coalition said the Triangle land had slowly been taken over by the city and the National Western Center over the course of decades. “It has never been just one instance,” Espino said. “The two in living memory that I’m aware of was in 2015, when they proposed the redevelopment and created the National Western Center redevelopment guide and they took a bunch of housing. That I personally don’t remember because it was like the early ’90s.”

Participants in a recent tour of the “Triangle” land leased by the National Western Center place color-coded flags on a fenceline of what they’d like to see developed at certain locations. Photo by Eric Heinz

Documents from the coalition showed they would initially like to see 54 buildings that would include anything from apartments to duplexes to courtyard cottages that would provide 326 units across more than 260,000 square feet of building space. Some of the buildings identified in the documents are existing structures that could be reclaimed, as well as a community garden area and a plaza.

The land should be “community controlled,” according to the Coalition, meaning people with a stake in the area should be the ones who come to a consensus on how it is developed. Recently, about 20 community members went around to the various sites to place colored flags where they would like to see housing, retail or other kinds of facilities.

Jenna Garcia, the marketing and communications director of the National Western Center, said financial mechanisms have stalled some of the plans to move forward on development of the land that sits within the Triangle.

Future phases of the development have specific facilities in mind, but nothing is concrete at this time. A subsequent meeting was held recently after The G.E.S. Gazette’s press time, which included observations made by participants. The Gazette will follow up on this story as it develops.

“Because of financial impacts of COVID-19, the city paused the procurement process for the P3 for phases 3-8 (which include the Triangle) back in February of 2021,” Garcia stated. “The National Western Center and its partners at the city remain committed to completion of the full vision of the campus as outlined in the Master Plan and that includes the remaining phases of the campus.”

Garcia said because there isn’t a funding method for that portion of the redevelopment, the NWC is following the city’s lead on the next steps. “In the meantime, we are keeping all lines of communication open with The GES Coalition as well as many other community groups, and welcome all ideas as it relates to community benefits for that land,” she said.

A representative of the National Western Center was present to observe the events people participated in to show what kinds of facilities they would want. Currently, much of the land that hasn’t been developed in the Triangle is either parking lots or vacant.

In 2021, voters shot down what was known as Measure 2E that would have issued $190 million to the NWC in bonds for repairs, improvements and additions, which could have included a new arena for concerts and sports events. But voters did approve Measure 2C in 2015 that allowed the NWC to borrow $778 million.

“I think the failure of the bond measure kind of shows that it’s out of touch,” Espino said. “Like it’s a proposal that’s out of touch with the reality of most people’s needs.”

Editor’s note: A security guard from the National Western Center reminded participants during the tour that the fenceline is property of the center and should not be adorned with flags or other items not approved by the NWC.

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