“Not to See Elitch’s is Not to See Denver” went the local saying for the former Elitch’s Zoological Gardens and Amusement Park. A cultural touchstone since it opened in 1890 by John and Mary Elitch, the park was home to the gardens, the historic Elitch Theatre at the Gardens (the first woman owned theatre and longest standing summer stock theatre in the United States from 1897 – 1987), the famous Trocadero Ballroom (a regular stop and broadcasting venue for touring big bands), and countless rides and roller coasters.
With no opportunity for expansion however, the park was relocated to the Central Platte Valley (see Elitch Gardens), and the 28-acre site was shuttered in 1994. Vacant, contaminated, and completely without urban infrastructure, the site’s redevelopment potential was hampered and of great concern to the surrounding community. In order to assist in its remediation and ensure that the resulting redevelopment fit soundly within the existing neighborhoods, DURA provided $5.75 million in TIF bonds and reimbursements.
Acquired by HGV Land Company in 1999 and redeveloped by the Perry Rose Company, the redeveloped site now consists of 306 mixed-income residential units, approximately 70,000 square feet of commercial space, a 43,000 square foot public school, 38,000 square feet of civic uses (including the restored Historic Elitch Theatre), and 140,000 square feet of open space. The residential product types span from single family detached houses to commercial live-work units to affordable co-housing opportunities. Widely recognized as one of Denver’s first and most successful new urbanist developments, the project is a model of green building practices. All of the homes exceed Colorado’s Built Green and Energy Star programs and the developer made use of recycled construction materials for the horizontal infrastructure as well, most notably 30 tons of recycled concrete from the demolition of the amusement park were reused for neighborhood roadbeds.
Through the extraordinary efforts of HGV Land Company, and with the support of the City and County of Denver, the City Council, the adjacent neighborhood organizations, and DURA this redevelopment creates a walkable, transit-linked, mixed-use, mixed-income village that provides a socially, environmentally, and financially viable model for revitalizing underutilized sites across America.
Redevelopment of a 27.39-acre former amusement park into a mixed-use urban village, including 306 residential units (for-sale, for-rent, market rate, and affordable), retail and office space, a public school, civic and cultural uses, and open space.
HGV Land Company LLC
Total Project Cost:
$5.75 million in bonds and reimbursement
Tax Increment Source:
Property and Sales Taxes
Repayment of Bonds, Reimbursement of Developer or November 30, 2023