Downtown Superior – As Superior builds a downtown, officials seek ‘Main Street’ identity

Daily Camera Superior News

April 5, 2019

Work session on tap for early concept plans on city core

From Boulder’s Pearl Street to Lafayette’s South Public Road, most of the county’s main thoroughfares were developed over time, with each new building erected or razed a reflection of the city’s changing cultural landscape.

How then, amid the Front Range’s era of population influx and shifting identities, can a community create a Main Street of its own decades into its municipal life span?

It’s a question a previous Superior leadership took on when it first approved the plans for what would later be known as Downtown Superior, a landmark development slated to include 1,400 homes and roughly 800,000 square feet of commercial office and retail space on one of the town’s last vestiges of developable land.

Roughly six years later, it’s now a question that current Superior Trustees are on the cusp of having to answer themselves. Trustees on Monday are scheduled to convene a work session on early concept plans for 13 acres in the Downtown Superior core. The feedback is likely to lay the groundwork for how the town’s six-block Main Street corridor will look throughout the next several years of growth.

While the names of tenants poised to occupy the corridor are still relatively far from public knowledge, early concept plans for the core paint a picture of how Superior’s long-awaited downtown could look.

Bill Jencks of Ranch Capital, a partner firm with the land developer for the entire Downtown Superior, said Friday that they’re trying to create a self-contained downtown area, an increasingly popular concept for planners that fits most residents’ needs into a singularly purposed space.

The idea is to create a “self contained live, work and play area where ideally someone doesn’t need to use a car 90% of the time unless they’re going to the mountains,” Jencks said.

Apart from a smattering of upscale townhomes and the town’s touted Sport Stable, the long-heralded Downtown Superior has been slow to materialize. As recent as a year or so ago the lot, located roughly at the southeast corner of U.S. 36 and McCaslin Boulevard, held little else but sprawling fields of grass.

The streets, even now, striped and adorned with street lamps, function mostly as access routes to the Sport Stable and the newly minted neighborhoods and as a symbol of the growth to come.

Conceptual designs show the roughly 13-acre core area slated more than 400 additional residential units — a portion of which are studio apartments, an increasingly sought after option for companies developing across the Denver Metro — at 40 dwelling units per acre.

Moreover, plans suggest the corridor will include more than 70,000 square feet of retail space — roughly 58,000 of it along Main Street — and nearly 700 parking spots across the core region.

“As the heart of Downtown Superior,” a letter drafted by KTGY Architecture and Planning reads, “the plaza creates a space for gatherings of many sizes and types. The plaza is designed to serves as a backdrop for large town events, such as the Superior Chili Fest, race day festivals or farmer’s markets, but also contains other carefully placed, small scale zones throughout for day-to-day activation.”

According to Jencks, such shops could vary between full service and fast casual restaurants, boutique retailers and high-end fitness centers that activate “Main Street at all times of day.”

At the “hard corner” of Main Street and Superior Drive will either sit a brewery or coffee shop, developers say, something “that will be a memorable icon for the downtown core.”

Additionally, the plan could make way for coworking and office space and even retailers such as smaller format grocery stores.

Jencks is quick to suggest Downtown Superior will be unlike traditional malls, citing the lot’s unusual anchor tenant, the Sport Stable, and the developer’s avoidance of installing any big box stores with ever-shorter life spans.

Plans suggest the Main Street could be lined with two- to three-story buildings, with apartments on the upper floors above first-story retail space.

Renderings suggest the corridor will be lined with a plaza-type setting that could include a clubhouse and perhaps ambitions for some larger green space with an amphitheater.

“We’re being really true to the vibe and vision that has been established by the town board since it was approved in 2013,” Jencks said, “which is a really urban walkable mix use entertainment district.

“You could conceivably have it as a downtown where someone could own a townhome, get up and get a coffee and walk to their office,” Jencks added. “Then after work they could go eat some dinner nearby or get a beer at a brewery, then maybe go play some hockey or work out at the Sport Stable.”

If trustees give their blessing to the conceptual designs on Monday, developers could return with final plans later this year. Construction could begin on the first retail spaces late next year, Jencks said.