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DENVER-Growth in the Denver area is primarily taking place in large infill developments in the metro area such as Stapleton, being developed by Forest City on the site of the former international airport, according to a report released on Thursday by the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG). Stapleton often is described as the largest urban infill development in the country. With 4,100 acres of development it is more than half the size of the island of Manhattan. Eventually, it will have 10 million sf feet of office space and three million sf of retail space.

“That certainly seems to be true,” Tom Gleason, spokesman for Stapleton tells GlobeSt.com. “It comes back to quality of life. People want to spend time near where they work, where they shop and recreate, rather than spending time commuting.”

In addition to Stapleton, Drcog points to other infill developments as the Central Platte Valley in Downtown Denver, Belmar in Lakewood and Lowry in East Denver as places where growth is increasingly taking place. In addition, much of the growth is along the north and northeast corridors, in greenfields in established communities such as Commerce City.

DRCOG’s estimates show a rate of growth in 2004 at 1.8%, below the region’s average during the past five years. Also, in 2004, the metro area added 20,000 new housing units for a total of 1.1 million.

“These figures are very positive for our region,” says Jeff May, director of the DRCOG’s resource center that produced the new estimates. “Our communities have been working hard to increase infill development over the past eight years as a goal of our Metro Vision plan for growth and development.”

Communities on the north end of the metro area, including Commerce City, Thornton, Brighton and Arvada, are showing strong housing growth trends. Commerce City, better known for its industry, added 1,810 new housing units in 2004 for a total of 5,078 new housing units since 2000.

“There’s a definite shift in growth to the north,” says May. “One of our members, the Town of Erie, grew almost 29% in 2004, averaging 15.5% growth since 2000.”

DRCOG’s estimates show a large number of new housing units being built along the E-470 corridor, which is attracting a large amount of new retail developments to serve the rooftops. Two-thirds of Aurora’s housing unit growth occurred along E-470. Thornton and Commerce City also saw about half of their expansion in the corridor.

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