Mayor Hogan highlights city successes, ‘opportunity,’ hints at performing arts center in annual address

Mayor Steve Hogan, who called on city council to work on a proposal for such a facility in his address last year, said he could have a concrete proposal to present to city council for approval this fall.

AURORA | A swank new cultural and performing arts center could become a reality in Aurora in the coming years, Mayor Steve Hogan hinted in his annual State of the City speech May 18 at the Hyatt Regency Aurora-Denver Conference Center.

Hogan said he is in talks with a “private sector good corporate citizen” regarding a deal to erect a performing arts center in the city, possibly similar to existing facilities in Parker, Lone Tree and Lakewood.

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Mayor Steve Hogan, left, and radio DJ Rick Crandell discuss opportunity in Aurora at the annual State of the City address May 18, 2017 at Aurora's Hyatt conference center

Hogan, who called on city council to work on a proposal for such a facility in his address last year, said he could have a concrete proposal to present to city council for approval this fall.

“I believe that possibility provides an exciting future to help feed our civic soul,” Hogan said during his speech Thursday.

While Hogan didn’t elaborate on the potential logistics of the deal, last year he said the city would look for a “public-private” partnership to bring such a project to fruition.

Efforts to erect a facility dedicated to the arts in Aurora have waxed and waned over the years, with ballot measures that called for such structures in both 1979 and 2002. Both measures failed.

But talks of a possible performing arts complex have remained consistent in the year since Hogan made his first public request for an arts center last spring. Just last month, Mary Mollicone, chairwoman of the city’s cultural affairs commission, addressed several members of city council at a policy committee meeting, urging them to incorporate the idea of a new performing arts center in the city’s forthcoming comprehensive plan.

During his speech Thursday, Hogan was mum on many details regarding a potential arts hub, including possible locations. In the past, he has pointed to plots near the Aurora Municipal Complex, the Anschutz Medical Campus, southeast Aurora and the city’s far east corner, possibly near the forthcoming Gaylord Hotel and Conference Center. Wherever such a development is proposed, Hogan and others in the city have maintained that accessibility to highways and public transportation would be key.

Throughout his State of the City address, Hogan touched on Aurora’s incremental rise as a regional and national hub for development, diversity and innovation. He highlighted several bioscience firms at the Anschutz Medical Campus as well as a number of high-profile development deals the city has inked in the past year, including those with Amazon, Walmart and JP Morgan Chase.

When speaking about development in the city, Hogan emphasized that only a fraction of the city is built out, and that a slew of eastern housing projects, including the much anticipated Aurora Highlands development, will soon begin turning dirt.

“If you want to see some of the areas with the biggest opportunities in Aurora, go east, my friends,” he said.

Hogan was also sure to underscore Aurora’s status as a bastion of diversity, mentioning the city’s high population of immigrants, the new Salvadoran consulate on South Havana Street and national awards the city has won for its multicultural efforts.

In his few unscripted lines of prose, Hogan said many of his mayoral peers across the country have praised the city for its recent successes.

“This is undoubtedly the city of opportunity in Colorado,” he said. “And I would dare say, based upon my conversations with my fellow mayors across the United States, that most of them are envious of what we have. Most of them would like to have the opportunity to have just 10 percent of what we have so that they, in turn, could make their cities and their communities into what Aurora is and what Aurora will be.”