BRIGHTON – This city, a community of 20,000, sits on U.S. Highway 85 near Interstate 76 waiting, like Sleeping Beauty, to be awakened by a kiss from her magical prince. In this case, the prince takes the form of Denver International Airport and the E-470 Highway. And if what some people say is true, it’ll be several years – two to five at least – before this kiss takes place. But the greater question is what kind of effect will the kiss have. No one knows for sure. What is known is that any growth that could come as a result of these two projects won’t occur until all of the major pieces are in place. In the case of DIA, for example, development is just now happening near the airport itself, so any major growth occurring in Brighton is years down the road. Donna Spradling, executive director of the Greater Brighton Economic Development Corp., said widespread development radiating from a new airport takes up to seven years to reach outlying areas such as Brighton. Such was the case at both the Dallas-Fort Worth and Atlanta airports, for example. She suspects the same will hold true for DIA. And E-470 must be completed before new businesses can move in to take advantage of the new highway access. The stretch from 120th Avenue to Tower Road is not scheduled for completion until 1999, and the fourth segment, from I-25 to 120th Avenue, has yet to be funded. That stretch, Spradling said, is the stretch of highway that could open Brighton up to all kinds of commerce. “We’ve had car dealers interested in an intersection along E-470. I see commercial activity, from larger office complexes and light-industrial to anyone who needs that direct access,” she said. She noted that interest in development opportunities is coming from both in-state and out-of-state. Brighton mayor Terrance Lucero, who also is this city’s appointed representative to the E-470 Public Highway Authority, added that Brighton should begin to see some growth in 1999 when traffic flow begins on E-470 from 120th to Tower Road. “Brighton will be the first community they see,” he said. Brighton’s close proximity to both E-470 and DIA should make the community attractive to a variety of industries, he added. “We’re looking at the same type of industries as everyone else – clean and with well-paying jobs,” Lucero said. But any impact so far has been insignificant. “No business has moved here because of DIA,” Spradling said. This is not to say that Brighton is not experiencing some growth. Lucero, for example, noted that when he started on the Brighton City Council a decade ago, Brighton had zero building permits for single-family homes. Today, it processes about 200 a year. Population then was 14,000; today it’s 20,000. Many new residents work at DIA, an easy commute. Spradling said that in 1990, Brighton had a 41 percent industrial vacancy rate. “Today we have virtually nothing,” she said. “We’ve tripled industrial space in that time period.” This growth is attributable to the same types of growth occurring up and down the Front Range. The Kmart Distribution Center, at 1.2 million square feet, is the largest business to move to Brighton to date. The facility, located at Bromley Lane and I-76, opened in 1994 and serves 13 states. Spradling said the proximity to DIA and E-470 may have played only a minor role – if any – in Kmart choosing this Colorado location. Most of the distribution of goods, however, is handled by trucks. The next largest industry moving to town is Metalwest Inc., a steel service center that took over 12,000 square feet of available space. Brighton also has its first motel, a Comfort Inn at U.S. Highway 85 and Bromley Lane. Geoff Kreusser, vice president of Colliers Bennett & Kahnweiler Inc., a commercial real estate firm in Denver, said new businesses and industries will find Brighton attractive not only for its proximity to the airport and the E-470 beltway, but because of its labor pool and low cost for land and services. “Typically, in areas like this you see cycles of land play,” Kreusser said. “First you have speculators and developers who buy out the farmers. They then trade to the next wave of speculators/developers who pay substantially more for the land. Then reality begins to set in. The little pieces won’t happen till someone comes in with the big plan.” “Even when people knew DIA was going to happen, no one jumped out and built hotels,” he added. “It takes a while for people to be convinced.” The same will be true, he added, for growth along E-470.
BRIGHTON – This city, a community of 20,000, sits on U.S. Highway 85 near Interstate 76 waiting, like Sleeping Beauty, to be awakened by a kiss from her magical prince. In this case, the prince takes the form of Denver International Airport and the E-470 Highway. And if what some people say is true, it’ll be several years – two to five at least – before this kiss takes place. But the greater question is what kind of effect will the kiss have. No one knows for sure. What is known is that any growth that could…
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