The Lone Tree Entertainment District of the future will be the city’s heart, with parks, play areas and fireplaces where neighbors and visitors gather, and pedestrians flow easily from one side to the other across Park Meadows Drive. That’s the vision of the area tentatively renamed Lone Tree Plaza that consultant John Ward presented to the Lone Tree City Council during its July 16 meeting.
He presents it to the community during a 4-7 p.m. July 25 open house at the Bridge Center building in the entertainment district.
Ward, whose 505 Design company contracted with the city to create a plan for the retail area, described a grand vision but didn’t talk about financing. That’s the second phase of his company’s contract with Lone Tree, and one that can’t happen until the city and district business owners find a shared vision.
Ward said he found striking commonality among the approximately 85 people he surveyed about the district, an area off Yosemite Street and Park Meadows Drive anchored by United Artists theater, Mimi’s Cafe, the Brunswick Zone and Sky Venture Colorado, among others.
“There’s a lot of community pride here,” said Ward, whose survey included 20-somethings who rent apartments in Lone Tree, seniors and working professionals. “They feel it is superior to other communities in the metro area.”
For that reason, Ward said, events such as a farmers market in the parking lot of the district haven’t enjoyed overwhelming success.
“People in Lone Tree don’t envision themselves as being that kind of person,” he said.
Almost everyone agreed Lone Tree lacks a center, he said. They also concurred on their assessment of the entertainment district, calling it “hodge-podge” and “disconnected.”
“Everybody comes to the Entertainment District, but there’s no reason to stay,” Ward said. “There’s no question Lone Tree Plaza could be the heart of Lone Tree. (But) this whole idea of connecting the district is extremely important, creating a way for people to get across Park Meadows Drive.”
In addition to extending Kimmer Drive across Park Meadows Drive, Ward suggested building a median along a portion of Park Meadows Drive to create a physical differentiation.
“As you drive through this piece, you’re going to feel something really different,” he said.
A now overgrown retention area and trail that extends south near the University of Colorado’s Lone Tree Health Center becomes a city park in Ward’s scenario.
He also advocated for a connection — perhaps in the form of a promenade stretching from Yosemite Street to the Element Hotel — on the district’s north side.
Go Putt Miniature Golf owner Dave Smith said business owners are excited about the plan, and that the city is partnering with them in creating it.
“As business owners, we always felt it was the city against us,” he said. “We’re really excited.
“We’re the hole inside the doughnut,” Smith added, referring to Park Meadows mall on the district’s north side and RidgeGate to its south. “The thing I’d still like to see is what I call an a-ha, and I haven’t seen it yet. It’s going to take more than walkways … more than pathways. What can we add to this area that does not compete with Park Meadows or RidgeGate?”
Lone Tree’s $100,000 contract with 505 Design is a two-phased plan that also calls for the firm to come up with financing recommendations for the potential project.