Denver Int'l Airport Pursuing Proposals for 'Peña Project'

Oct. 5--Denver International Airport is seeking proposals for a retail project that could serve as a model for future development of 500 acres of airport property.

Airport officials expect to issue requests for proposals for two sites totaling 16.7 acres on the north side of Peña Boulevard just southeast of the airport's large Conoco gas station. On Tuesday, airport officials and local business leaders met with interested developers, retailers and contractors to pitch their vision for the property, dubbed "The Peña Project." DIA leaders hope the project will provide a new source of revenue for the nation's fifth-busiest airport while at the same time providing retail services for travelers and DIA workers.

It also would be a place for Denverites to pass time as they wait for arriving friends, relatives and business associates.

"The idea is to have a retail village," said Stan Koniz, DIA deputy manager and chief financial officer. "The concept would be a couple of pad restaurant sites -- and some retail, which would provide services for the 30,000 (DIA) employees who right now can't get their hair cut or get their dry cleaning done nearby." Some buildings could contain second-floor office space, he said.

Students from the University of Colorado's Leeds School of Business will be contacting attendees from Tuesday's meeting to solicit comments on the project, which will be used to generate the request for proposal to be issued before the end of the year.

Speakers at Tuesday's meeting touted the sites as having high visibility and higher traffic counts than the busiest segments of Colorado Boulevard. About 85,000 cars pass along Peña Boulevard each day.

Also Tuesday, Koniz said the airport soon will issue a proposal request for a gas station to be built on four acres at the southeast corner of Peña Boulevard and Gun Club Road.

Airport officials and leaders from the DIA Business Partnership, a nonprofit group representing airport-area interests, decided to pursue retail on a test basis after touring commercial development at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport 18 months ago.

"We had this big 'Aha' moment when we realized they were really leveraging their land to their advantage," recalled Susan Stanton, vice president of the group.

DIA will lease the parcels to the developers chosen for the project. The airport has identified 500 acres that could be used for commercial development, Koniz said.

"There's not an assumption about what kinds of uses those sites could be," Stanton said. "Once we successfully get a first program out of the ground, we will look at all of the acreage and take the next step."

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