Lowry Range project partners with NREL, still has environmental questions to address

Lend Lease, a Denver-based chapter of the global Australian real estate company of the same name, this week announced it is partnering with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to incorporate environmentally friendly energy, water and waste features that will produce a “net zero” effect on the more than 4,000 acres of land it plans to develop in Colorado, according to the Denver Business Journal.

The partnership certainly puts another green feather in the company’s cap, but Lend Lease has spent the last few years skirting questions about environmental concerns when it comes to its largest Colorado project.

Lend Lease plans to build two sustainable, mixed-use communities in Colorado: a 500-plus-acre development in Aurora at the intersection of Interstate 70 and E-470; and the more controversial Lowry Range project, a 3,800-acre development on Colorado State Land Board land, in unincorporated Arapahoe County, southeast of Denver.

Although Lend Lease promotes its developments as about as environmentally friendly as massive residential development can be, questions about the Lowry Range project and the sustainability of its 13,000 proposed homes have dogged the company and its partners for years.

Specifically: Has the site of the project, the former Lowry bombing range, been sufficiently cleared of unexploded ordinance and chemicals for residential development? And where will the development get enough water for its projected 30,000 residents?

And the Denver Regional Council of Governments has also questioned the ability of the Denver metro area to absorb that many new commuters, and their vehicles emissions, while still meeting federal air quality standards.

The State Land Board stands to gain about $300 million from the project, while it’s likely that neighboring Aurora, which unexpectedly dropped its long-held opposition to the plan last year, will be offered land for another water storage facility.

Lend Lease has repeatedly promised to address these environmental concerns in detail but has not provided a timeline to do so. The company plans to break ground next year, with build out projected to take 25 years.

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J.C. O'Connell

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