A prominent piece of ground near the Federal Center in Lakewood has finally changed hands, purchased by a developer this month for $30 million after nearly a decade of on-again-off-again negotiation, a failed land swap and multiple court rulings on its future.
The 59-acre parcel at the southeast corner of Union Boulevard and U.S. 6 was bought last week by Lakewood Land Partners LP, which posted the winning bid in an auction held by the U.S. General Services Administration, the agency that manages federal government property.
“This has been a long process but GSA is hopeful this land will have a positive impact on the area, like the previous sale that brought the hospital and transit system which has been beneficial to the community,” said GSA spokesman Rich Stebbins, referring to another nearby plot of former federally owned land that is now home to Centura St. Anthony Hospital and a W-Line rail stop.
Lakewood Land Partners, which formed on March 27, lists a Dallas address belonging to the Lincoln Property Company, according to a filing with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. Several attempts Thursday to reach someone at Lincoln were unsuccessful.
The nearly 60-year-old development company has projects across the United States and Europe. In Colorado, it lists dozens of projects across metro Denver, including Union Tower in Lakewood.
Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul said he was not familiar with the buyer of the Federal Center property. But he said he was eager to see what they planned to bring to the site, which is one of the largest developable parcels in Lakewood and holds promise as a site for highly sought transit-oriented development.
“Moving forward they will be subjected to all the city processes and rules,” Paul said. “I am excited to engage and begin community conversations about this important piece of property.”
The property’s history is long and tangled. It was at the center of land swap proposal in 2015, whereby Lakewood would build a $25.2 million lab at the Federal Center in exchange for the vacant site. Federal officials scuttled that deal just a few months later, instead launching a “competitive procurement” process for its acquisition.
The property went up for auction in the spring of 2017 but that process was stopped a few months later by a federal judge after the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless sued, citing a federal law that gives priority to homeless agencies to bid on excess U.S. government real estate.
The coalition’s $120 million plan would have been the metro area’s largest affordable housing project — a proposed 500- to 600-unit complex serving 1,000 people. The proposal met stiff resistance from residents and neighbors in Lakewood.
By the summer of 2019, a federal court upheld a denial of the sale by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services based on the agency’s assertion that the coalition had not adequately laid out how it would finance the project. The property hit the market again two years ago but went nowhere.
Lakewood spokeswoman Stacie Oulton said while the city has little to say about the sale of the 59 acres because it just happened, she said there will no doubt be a lot of conversation about it in the coming months.
“Because this is a prominent property in Lakewood, the city understands there will be a lot of questions,” she said. “This process will likely not get underway for a number of months, and the city anticipates that one of the first steps will be the new owners meeting with community members.”
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