Colfax and Peoria makeover underway in Aurora

Over just the last few months, the bustling intersection near the Anschutz Medical Campus has seen a flurry of activity

AURORA | The bustling intersection of East Colfax Avenue and Peoria Street will hardly resemble its hard-scrabble reputation in a few years.

Already long gone is the old Boll-e-Ana Motel west of Peoria, and several other longtime, dilapidated fixtures nearby are about to meet with a demolition crew.

“If I left today and came back five years from now I wouldn’t recognize that intersection,” said Ward I City Councilwoman Sally Mounier, who represents the area. “I just wouldn’t.”

Over just the last few months, the bustling intersection near the Anschutz Medical Campus has seen a flurry of activity. The Conoco station that sat for years at the northwest corner of Peoria and Colfax is gone, set to be replaced by a new 7-Eleven.

20160705-Construction-Aurora, Colorado

Construction on new apartment complexes and businesses along on Tuesday July 05, 2016 at Peoria and Colfax intersection. Photo by Carl Glenn Payne/Aurora Sentinel

20160705-Construction-Aurora, Colorado

Construction crew work on new apartment complexes and businesses along on Tuesday July 05, 2016 at Peoria and Colfax intersection. Photo by Carl Glenn Payne/Aurora Sentinel

20160705-Construction-Aurora, Colorado

Construction on new apartment complexes and businesses along on Tuesday July 05, 2016 at Peoria and Colfax intersection. Photo by Carl Glenn Payne/Aurora Sentinel

20160705-Construction-Aurora, Colorado

Construction on new apartment complexes and businesses along on Tuesday July 05, 2016 at Peoria and Colfax intersection. Photo by Carl Glenn Payne/Aurora Sentinel

20160705-Construction-Aurora, Colorado

Construction on new apartment complexes and businesses along on Tuesday July 05, 2016 at Peoria and Colfax intersection. Photo by Carl Glenn Payne/Aurora Sentinel

20160705-Construction-Aurora, Colorado

Construction on new apartment complexes and businesses along on Tuesday July 05, 2016 at Peoria and Colfax intersection. Photo by Carl Glenn Payne/Aurora Sentinel

20160705-Construction-Aurora, Colorado

Construction on new apartment complexes and businesses along on Tuesday July 05, 2016 at Peoria and Colfax intersection. Photo by Carl Glenn Payne/Aurora Sentinel

20160705-Construction-Aurora, Colorado

Construction on new apartment complexes and businesses along on Tuesday July 05, 2016 at Peoria and Colfax intersection. Photo by Carl Glenn Payne/Aurora Sentinel

20160705-Construction-Aurora, Colorado

Construction on new apartment complexes and businesses along on Tuesday July 05, 2016 at Peoria and Colfax intersection. Photo by Carl Glenn Payne/Aurora Sentinel

20160705-Construction-Aurora, Colorado

Construction on new apartment complexes and businesses along on Tuesday July 05, 2016 at Peoria and Colfax intersection. Photo by Carl Glenn Payne/Aurora Sentinel

20160705-Construction-Aurora, Colorado

Construction on new apartment complexes and businesses along on Tuesday July 05, 2016 at Peoria and Colfax intersection. Photo by Carl Glenn Payne/Aurora Sentinel

20160705-Construction-Aurora, Colorado

Construction on new apartment complexes and businesses along on Tuesday July 05, 2016 at Peoria and Colfax intersection. Photo by Carl Glenn Payne/Aurora Sentinel

To the south, an old gas station and ethnic market is gone and will be replaced by a Family Dollar store at East 14th Avenue and Peoria. A block south, at 13th and Peoria, phase 2 of the massive Edgepoint apartment complex is under construction.

The old sprawling building that used to house an Auto Zone on the southeast corner is vacant and fenced off, and Mounier said the hope is that is redeveloped soon.

And, Mounier said, the iconic Nick’s Liquors building on the southwest corner is under contract and will soon be redeveloped.

“We are now at warp speed as far as building goes,” Mounier said.

Local leaders have pined for that sort of building boom in the neighborhood since the old Fitzsimons Army Medical Center was redeveloped into the booming Anschutz Medical Campus a decade ago.

The hope was that the hospitals, medical schools and bioscience companies on and adjacent to the campus would lure new business to the surrounding neighborhood, which has long struggled with a gritty image.

When the economy tanked in 2008, that spillover development slowed considerably.

But today, with not only several projects along Peoria, but new hotels and apartments popping up on Colfax a few blocks further east, Mounier said the long-desired building boom has started in earnest.

“I think it was slow to start but as of right now we are turning dirt any place we can,” she said.

At Edgepoint, crews are working on several apartment buildings that are part of the project’s second phase.

According to city documents, the second phase of the Edgepoint project will include 177 units when it’s complete. That’s more than double the first Edgepoint building to the west, which opened in 2013 with 42 units.

When it’s complete, the second phase will also include an 8,800-square-foot child care center that will enroll more than 100 children.

It wasn’t clear from city records when the project could be complete. Officials from MGL Partners, the Denver-based development firm behind the project, did not return calls for comment.

Mounier said she wasn’t sure when the project will be completed, but said it will be followed by a third phase. When it’s all built out, the complex will include units for low income families as well as market-rate housing.

“That’s the beauty of this, the fact that they have a differing range of availabilities for different incomes,” she said.

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