Would you believe unused parking spots exist in Cherry Creek? The city’s selling 200 to make way for luxury homes and a “European plaza”

The $6 million windfall will buy a lot of non-car stuff.

A parking garage in Cherry Creek, Jan. 2, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A parking garage in Cherry Creek, Jan. 2, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photos

It’s kind of like one of those house-flipping reality shows except with parking spots.

In 2002, Denver bought 198 parking stalls at the garage next to Whole Foods in Cherry Creek for $4.7 million and leased them to area workers. At their peak, the spots were only 70 percent full. Now the city is flipping them for $6 million in anticipation of the garage’s demise. The Denver City Council approved the transaction Wednesday.

San Diego-based development group OliverMcMillan is planning to redevelop the area with up to 500 luxury apartments, 120,000 square feet of retail and dining and a “European central plaza with lush landscaping,” according to the company’s property brochure. The makeover will include a new Whole Foods and an underground garage, according to city documents.

There’s no timeline for the project to start, company spokeswoman Hilarie Portell said, and no imminent plans to demolish the garage.

Denver Director of Real Estate Jeff Steinberg is convinced the garage will be demolished to make room for new stuff — it was the basis of the parking space deal. Once started, the project will take about five years to complete, according to city documents.

“Our overall understanding is that the entire property is going to be redeveloped,” Steinberg said. “You’ve got the vacant Sears, the parking lot. There’s some pretty aggressive ideas and plans.”

The market — investors, cost of labor and materials, and tenants — will likely dictate when shovels go into the ground, Steinberg said.

The $6 million will fund other city stuff, like a solid waste station (this is different than a bathroom), pedestrian and transit infrastructure, and medians.

About $1.8 million will fund new sidewalks, bus stop shelters and other “multi-modal improvements to enhance circulation and pedestrian connections,” city documents state.

Denver has plans to expand its recycling, compost and trash facility on Cherry Creek Drive, known as a transfer center, and $2.2 million will go towards that project. Another $2 million will fund road medians in Green Valley Ranch.

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