Stapleton’s imagined “marketplace” hasn’t materialized, so a rehab center is going where offices were planned

The inpatient health center will have 40 beds, at least to start.

Work on the Lake House jobsite near Sloan Lake, May 21, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Work on the Lake House jobsite near Sloan Lake, May 21, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photos

A dirt lot in Stapleton is destined to become a rehabilitation center for people recovering after hospital stays.

The Denver City Council on Monday passed new rules for two plots along Central Park Boulevard at 46th Avenue that will let a local developer build the health complex. The campus will stretch across about 4 acres.

Stapleton’s development plan calls for office buildings on the land, but the market has not delivered.

“It has always been that vision in the Stapleton development plan that this would sort of be the marketplace for all of Stapleton, and that has developed on the retail side and the industrial side, but I think some of the institutional or corporate uses that they envisioned there just never happened,” said Theresa Lucero, a Denver city planner, during a Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee meeting in December. “So we’re rethinking some of it as we go along, it seems.”

The “acute care” health center will help people recovering from physical maladies who are ready to leave the hospital but not quite ready to go home, developer Jeffrey Jones of America Development said.

It will have 40 beds at first, and will likely be extended to 60 beds in a huge, 4,700-acre neighborhood with a growing demand for healthcare. The neighborhood has “virtually all elements of mixed use other than medical or healthcare facilities,” the developer’s application states.

“There’s a huge senior population in far northeast (Denver),” said City Councilman Chris Herndon, who represents the area. “This is a gap that we need to fill.”

Jones said he’ll have a little over one acre left after the campus is built. Although the new zoning will allow other uses, the company won’t build anything other than health facilities, according to Jones.

That idea did not sit well with some members of the public who spoke at Monday’s hearing. Jerry Burton, who said he often protests Denver’s policy of sweeping people experiencing homelessness off the street, wanted to see housing mixed in.

“We need to be thinking about the bottom third of society right now, the ones on fixed incomes,” Burton said. “It’s very unfortunate to see and hear that this (health center) takes precedence over that.”

Jones expects 90 percent of the patients to be 65 or older. Medicare, the federally funded health program, will take care of most of the cost, he said.

The council passed the measure 12 to 0 with City Councilman Wayne New absent.

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