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Dressed in suits and sundresses, business leaders and government officials of Douglas County assembled on a dirt field in what is quickly becoming the first village of Sterling Ranch.
Surrounded by paved roads weaving through finished and unfinished homes and the bustle of construction equipment, the group celebrated the future of the ground beneath them — where a 30,000-square-foot civic center, coated in “sterling” stainless steel and equipped with health and wellness features, will be built.
“We are very excited about the alternatives, the new solutions,” Harold Smethills — who, with his wife, Diane, founded the master-planned community — said at a July 21 groundbreaking ceremony. “What is most exciting for us is the new way of living.”
The civic center marks the first commercial building of Sterling Ranch, a $4.4 billion development spanning 3,400 acres west of Santa Fe Drive and south of Chatfield Reservoir. After a 20-year buildout, Sterling Ranch is expected to have 12,000 homes with 33,000 people, along with schools, churches, shopping, recreation and forward-thinking technology.
Community leaders at the groundbreaking ceremony highlighted Sterling Ranch's impact on the prosperity of Douglas County.
The development will create 9,000 jobs of all varieties, including commercial, construction, retail and primary employers, according to Northwest Douglas County Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit organization that works to attract and retain area businesses. Building of the development itself is projected tol generate several thousand construction-related jobs per year.
“More residents,” Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas said to the intimate crowd, “means more economic development.”
Moving away from tradition, Sterling Ranch encourages new solutions to old problems, Smethill said.
One being water supply: About 40 percent of irrigation will come from rainwater collected from commercial buildings and street gutters by a storm management system. Another is technology: An underground fiber-optic network will deliver fiber, or bandwidth, to every home, allowing access to some of the fastest internet speeds. Homes and businesses will be interconnected through a virtual touch-screen that controls devices and energy usage.
Construction of model homes of one of eight villages in Sterling Ranch broke ground nearly a year ago, following 12 years of collaboration and some controversy. The development drew opposition from a neighboring community association over adequate water supply and impact on quality of life.
Today, those model homes sit among dozens of completed homes and lots — of which 40 to 50 have sold — in the first village, called Providence. At its completion, Providence will have 800 single-family homes, 85 acres of open space, one school, a church, a recreation center and a civic center, which is now under construction south of Titan Road.
“Residents are going to embrace this as a building that fits into their neighborhood,” said Greg Uhen, CEO of Eppstein Uhen Architects, the firm behind the building, “That they can use and enjoy and that adds to their daily life.”
Slated for a spring 2018 completion, the multi-use building will be used for enjoyment and education — one side will have outdoor gardens, floor-to-ceiling windows, an exhibit space, coffee shop and wine bar — and health and wellness. UCHealth recently announced that it will occupy 8,000 square feet of the center and provide primary care, which is currently nonexistent in the Chatfield Valley.
The building will evolve and change as Sterling Ranch grows, Uhen said. But its shiny stainless steel exterior will always serve the same purpose.
“It will become iconic,” Uhen said, “something people will realize and recognize as they come in.”
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