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DENVER-The $4-billion redevelopment of the former Stapleton International Airport beat 228 entries from 53 countries to win the Stockholm Partnerships Sustainable Cities award. King Carl XVI Gustaf gave the city and developer Forest City-Stapleton the award.

”The Stapleton airport re-use project breaks the old pattern by demonstrating that sustainability is economically viable and contributes to the private sector bottom-line, while calling in to question 50 years of single land-use development and automobile dependent design,” according to the judges.

The judges note that Stapleton, the largest infill project in the US, can be a model for other large tracts of land.

”While Stapleton is the first known case of such an airport re-use in the US, these special ingredients are not unusual to cities worldwide. Any city with an inner city core of large, obsolete, industrial infill sites is probably a candidate for the lessons of sustainable Stapleton,” the judges say.

Another judge adds, ”For once we have not produced a horrible urban model–and just because you can sprawl doesn’t mean you should. The fact is we can no longer sprawl, and here is an infill model that breaks our pattern and has lots to offer the world.”

Mayor Wellington E. Webb says the award was so important that he sent two high-ranking city officials to Stockholm at a time when the city is pinching pennies.

”I haven’t banned international travel,” Webb tells GlobeSt.com. ”If it is important enough, I will send someone overseas.”

But for many international trade travel, he won’t send delegates overseas unless the trip can pay for itself, he says.

Clearly, the Stockholm award, one of 14 international awards handed out, was important enough to make sure Denver was properly represented. The award brings the eyes of the world on Denver, notes Webb’s aide Andrew Hudson.

The 4,700-acre development will take 15 to 20 years to complete. Eventually, it will include 10 million sf of office space, 3 million sf of retail space and 1,100 acres of parks, increasing Denver’s park system by 30%. The neighborhoods will be very pedestrian-friendly and Forest City is recycling 6 million tons of concrete from runways and other airport uses on site.

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