Originally called the Denver Municipal Airport, the Stapleton International Airport served as Denver, Colorado’s primary airport from 1929 until 1955 when many airport vehicles left for the Denver International Airport. This left behind six empty runways.
Forest City Realty Trust, Inc. has worked on transforming the 4,700-acre airport into one of the largest in-fill projects in the country for the past 16 years. The company says this project serves as a model for urban redevelopment with 16 schools, 11 neighborhoods and shopping and business districts.
BrightView says it continues to install parks, streetscapes and handle water mitigation for one of the largest urban redevelopment communities in the country. The company says that traces of the airport can still be seen in the tower and Hangar 61, which is restored and now used by the Stapleton Fellowship Church.
“There have been efforts to preserve the history of the airport in the new design,” said Chris Perry, assistant branch manager at BrightView Design Group in Colorado. “They even took all the old runways and broke them up into stone slabs to build walls out of them.”
BrightView was chosen for the project of restoring nature in the Stapleton urban community.
“We have built an excess of $60 million in work over those 16 years,” Perry said. “Our work that we’ve done there has been primarily metropolitan district work, which includes the majority of the streetscapes, the parks, and the open spaces.”
Currently the plan is that Stapleton will have more than 1,116 acres of parks and open spaces, which make up 35 percent of Stapleton, with an 80-acre Central Park, 50 parks, 47 miles of bike and walking trails, a skate park and two parks for dogs.
BrightView said it successfully salvaged a buried pipe beneath the runway and restored the creek that ran north through Stapleton Airport and its surrounding riparian plain. This created an interconnected system of ponds, prairies and wetlands.
“We have some parks that are sensory parks and we even created a Pizza Park,” Perry said. “The space is shaped like a pizza and has a wood-fired pizza oven in it. We also built a Rumble Park where the sidewalk is scored that when you ride a bike or scooter or skate over it, it makes music.”
It was reported that the first homeowner moved to the community in 2002, and since then it has grown to more than 20,000 residents to date with more than 35,000 trees planted in Stapleton. It will be a few more years until the community is completed, the company says.
“This project is unique in its scale,” Perry said. “Depending on how quickly the remainder of the infrastructure takes, it will probably be another four to six years before Stapleton is complete.”