Brad Buchanan, Denver’s chief planner, “sole finalist” to lead National Western Center

Brad Buchanan, director of Denver Community Planning and Development, has to like his chances to lead the revamped National Western Center into the future.
2 min. read
A horseman rides around the National Western Center, June 25, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Update, Sept. 28: Buchanan was officially named the National Wester Center Authority's first CEO after a unanimous vote by the NWCA board.

Brad Buchanan, Denver's director of Community Planning and Development, has been named the "sole finalist" to become the National Western Center Authority's CEO.

As the complex in Elyria Swansea gets a major facelift, a new organizational effort to oversee future operations has come together in the last year. In January, Denver City Council approved the outfit's first board, whose 11 voting members steer the Authority. Buchanan would report to them.

The Authority's job is to handle programming and partnerships, not construction and development of the site, said Jenna Espinoza-Garcia, communications director for Mayor’s Office of the National Western Center. Development is being handled by her office, which she said will essentially dissolve when the project is finished. There's no solid finish date for the Center's latter stages, but it's likely to be in the mid-to-late 2020s.

“We’re thrilled to move Brad forward as a final candidate for the Authority’s first CEO,” Authority Board Chairman Joe Garcia said in a press release. “I know he will work tirelessly to attract the appropriate programming, tenants and visitors to the campus, locally, regionally and internationally. With his many years of civic and public service, Brad will be a great liaison to our neighborhoods while working diligently to connect our urban and rural interests.”

Now Buchanan has to wait two weeks during a comment and community engagement period. The board will make a vote at the end of that time.

During his time as chief planner, Buchanan has overseen the city's growth during a population boom that could end up packing the city with 900,000 people by 2040, tumult over the closing of DIY art spaces, zoning changes to allow taller buildings in exchange for affordable units and the arrival of massive development proposals like those around the Broncos Stadium and at the current Elitch Gardens site.

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