Denver has a plan for who will oversee the redeveloped National Western Center

Officials said Globeville and Elyria-Swansea residents can start benefiting from the project after the National Western Center Authority is set up.

staff photo
Rendering of stockyards and riverside area at National Western Center. (Courtesy of Smart Deal for Denver.)

Rendering of stockyards and riverside area at National Western Center. (Courtesy of Smart Deal for Denver)

Globeville and Elyria-Swansea residents will start benefiting from the National Western Center redevelopment after Denver City Council approves how the campus will be managed, according to the city’s top official overseeing the project.

The three organizations planning to kick money into the redevelopment — Denver, Colorado State University, and Western Stock Show Association — want to create the National Western Center Authority to oversee the complex. A “framework agreement” for the nonprofit organization was unanimously approved Tuesday by Denver City Council’s Land Use, Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.

The agreement is tentatively expected to go before the full Denver City Council for approval in September. It’s unclear if the elected officials will hold a public hearing on the proposal before making a final decision. CSU and the Stock Show Association will also have to formally give their OKs on the agreement.

After the guidelines for the NWC Authority are approved, the group can establish a Community Investment Fund to collect money for programs and projects in Globeville and Elyria-Swansea, implement a program to hire residents for construction jobs and start adding community improvements like a year-round farmers market, said Kelly Leid, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of the National Western Center.

“This document allows us to unlock all those possibilities so we can start those discussions in earnest and actually start to deliver on the promise we laid out to voters in 2015,” Leid said.

In 2015, voters approved borrowing and tourist tax extensions that will provide the bulk of the $1.1 billion in funding that will go to making over the National Western Center complex. The city’s goal is to transform the National Western Complex and Denver Coliseum from the home of a roughly two-week agriculture event complete with professional rodeos, a horse show and a Western trade show to a year-round destination and global hub for agriculture and innovation.

“The return on investment gets me excited. However, the fear is the entrepreneurs in the neighborhood and the folks in the neighborhood will not be connected to that return on investment,” City Council President Albus Brooks said. “We want to have this global vision of feeding the world but yet local passion to connect people to opportunities.”

One of the ways Denver wants to make sure Globeville and Elyria-Swansea residents will have a voice in the direction of the National Western Center is by having a mayoral-appointed resident from the area serve on the board of directors of the NWC Authority. Under the proposed framework agreement, the mayor would get to appoint another six people to be on the board, CSU would get to fill two seats and the Stock Show Association would get two seats for a total of 11 directors.

It’s expected the board would get up and running sometime next year.

Denver is expected to kick in $622 million for the first phases of the redevelopment, the Stock Show Association is expected to contribute $125 million — $50 million in cash and $75 million worth of land — and CSU is expected to kick in another $200 million. Other money could come from state funds or grants, and a full budget for the project is expected to be released in October.

“This is a really exciting time. Up until this point, all the commitments from the partners were non-binding. We were all working toward one vision, one purpose, one mission. But this is the moment in time where the commitments become formalized in a legal document,” Deputy City Attorney Cristal Torres DeHerrera said.

“We were very thoughtful and deliberate when we were drafting this agreement on thinking through, ‘This is a document for the next 100 years.’ Well, it can address the concerns that we have today; it will also be nimble and flexible enough to react to what we don’t foresee at this point in time.”

Business & data reporter Adrian D. Garcia can be reached via email at or

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