Controversial Prosper project irking Aurora gets county approval

“There is still going to be growth and I think that part of the metro area is going to end up accommodating housing for future residents,” Jeff Vogel said. 

AURORA | Arapahoe County Commissioners this month gave initial approval to a sprawling development east of Aurora — one that could include close 10,000 new homes and has irked city officials.

The five-member board voted unanimously at their regular meeting Aug. 15 to approve the Prosper development, which stretches from Interstate 70 to East Mississippi Avenue north to south, and Hayesmount Road to Imboden Road west to east.

Andrea Rasizer, a spokeswoman for the county, said the board’s decision last week covers only an initial phase and the developers will have to come back to the county for another approval before they can start developing the land and begin selling lots.

Commissioner Nancy Sharpe stressed that the project is a longterm one and will likely take three decades before complete build out.

But, she said, laying the groundwork for future development along I-70 — which is expected to see a massive building boom east of Aurora because it is one of the few undeveloped areas around the metro — is crucial.

That development includes swaths of land in Arapahoe and Adams counties, she said.

“I think we can see that that’s going to continue to develop,” she said.

Sharpe stressed that the process will be a lengthy one, with just the first phase likely to take about a decade.

Aurora city officials have raised concerns about Prosper and other large-scale developments on the city’s edge, worrying they could snarl Aurora traffic and lean on water supplies that may not be able to handle them.

Commissioner Nancy Jackson said during last week’s meeting she also worried about traffic “bottle necking” near Prosper.

Sharpe said in all likelihood parts of I-70 will have to be improved, and not simply because of Prosper, but because of overall development in the area.

“The interchange will probably have to be enhanced to accommodate that traffic,” she said.

As for water, Sharpe said the developers have taken steps to ensure they have renewable water supplies and are only leaning on groundwater for about a quarter of the development’s supply.

The developers, Vogel Associates, who have butted heads with Aurora officials in the past about Prosper, did not return a request for comment.

Jeff Vogel, principal at Vogel Associates, said crews could break ground on the first phase of Prosper — which will include close to 1,000 homes — in summer 2018.

At full buildout, Prosper could have about 9,000 homes and 8 million square feet of commercial space. The area along I-70 is poised for a building boom, Vogel said, and that includes projects besides Prosper. He pointed to developments in Bennett and said even if Prosper wasn’t on the table, the area and the highway would have to be changed in the future to accommodate growth.

“There is still going to be growth and I think that part of the metro area is going to end up accommodating housing for future residents,” he said.

Prosper is not within the city of Aurora and Vogel said there are no plans to change that. The project is in Arapahoe County and he said developers have worked closely with county officials to make it happen.

Prosper isn’t the only largescale development to Aurora’s east that has worried city officials.

Skyranch, a 525-home residential area, is planned for northwest of Prosper.

That development covers 931 acres between I-70 and East Alameda Avenue from north to south, and Powhaton and Monaghan roads west to east.

Last year Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan wrote former Arapahoe County Commissioner Nancy Doty about his concerns regarding Sky Ranch, including not only water but traffic impacts on I-70 and Aurora’s streets.