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Southeast regional report.

The expansion of Interstate 25, its accompanying new light-rail, two new hospitals in the area and the revitalization of Centennial Airport give new life to the Southeast metro Denver corridor.

"The southeast region has a greater employment base than Downtown, plus it has more diverse communities and higher quality of life," says Brian Vogt, president of the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce.

For those living in the southeast, the area boasts public schools ranked among the top nationally.

For shoppers, Park Meadows Mall and the Outlets at Castle Rock offer a full range of retail options. The area also has 20 golf Digest's top 100 courses, and Castle Pines Golf Club, which hosts the PGA International.

Stephen Miller, vice president of economic development and chief economist for the Southeast Business Partneship, says the strenghts of the area have always been the insurance, financial services and telecommunications industries.

"Telecommunications has struggled but it will come back," Miller said.

During a recession the Southeast Business Partnership works to help existing business expand and to attract new business to the area. The southeast region has the best-educated workforce in the metro area. "We continue to focus on companies that need a highly educated workforce," Miller says.

The Southeast Business Partnership's most recent success was attracting EchoStar to the former Merrill Lynch office buildings in Meridian International Business Center in Englewood. Miller says a certain amount of vacant office space can help the area attract business, pointing out that EchoStar wanted a ready-made campus.

AROUND AND AHEAD

The T-REX project is slated to be completely finished by 2006, it will include two new light rail lines extending from Lincoln Avenue in Douglas County to Broadway and from Interstate 225 to Parker Road.

"With the T-REX project in full swing, construction has not caused anywhere near the hassle predicted," says Nancy Sharpe, a Greenwood Village City Council member and mayoral candidate.

"I think there was a lot of concern initially. What I have heard from people commuting into the ares is that it really has not materialized. It hasn't been the problem that people thought it was going to be. Now looking forward with the light rail operational in three years, this is really going to be a selling point for the area," Sharpe said.

Miller says that with HOV lanes the drive on Interstate 25 is no worse than before T-REX began He echoed Sharpe, pointing out that for future employers the Southeast Business Partnership is trying to attract to the area, the completed T-REX is a big attraction that is already close on the horizon.

In addition to concerns about the hassle of driving, Vogt said many people thought it would be difficult to lease office space along Interstate 25. "In fact, it has been difficult to space the space, but not because of T-REX but because of the recession," Vogt says.

As the area comes out of the recession, Vogt predicts it will come out with strength because the transportation infrastructure will be in place. "In the long term, I think it will stimulate the move to the 1-25 corridor," Vogt said.

The light rail will require a new kind of development around each stop, circular bus routes around the light rail and east-west transit in the southeast region "I think there is going to be a lot of infill around the light rail stops," Miller said.

For residents of the Southeast region the light rail will offer an easy connection to Downtown without the hassles of driving and parking. Southeast Business Partnership's chief economist Miller says it is exciting that soon it will be possible to live in Douglas County a few minutes from a light rail stop and to hop on and take the light rail into Downtown. "It is a connection to the cultural amenities of Downtown," Miller said.

FLYING IN FOR BUSINESS

In addition to the T-REX project, transportation in the southeast will continue to benefit from Centennial Airport. And now Centennial will be receiving needed federal airport improvement funds after five years without them.

Centennial is the 18th busiest airport in the country, offering both domestic and international flights for its corporate and private clients. Airport Director Robert Olislagers says "the synergy between business and air travel" is why Centennial was developed in the first place and why it is still so important to the area now. "You can fly in, do your meetings and fly back out and go wherever you need to go," Olislagers said.

Centennial Airport is the centerpiece of the southeast corridor, according to Vogt. For years conflict between "warring factions" over the future of the airport kept it out of compliance with federal regulations and without federal funds.

Centennial Airport was out of compliance because it did not allow commercial passenger flights. Olislagers said. Passengers create traffic, both road and air, which the neighborhood and the airport's corporate and private clients wanted to avoid. "People tin the neighborhood] were very fearful that we would have passenger flights into Centennial Airport some day. Between the road traffic and our own air traffic, it would have made it very congested out here," Olislagers said

But Centennial is back in compliance thanks to a law passed in February that said any general aviation airport with 300,000 or more landings or rake-offs per year that flew within or underneath class B airspace was exempt to passenger flights. Centennial Airport will receive $1.5 million in Federal funding this year to work on the main taxiway.

HEALTH HELP CLOSE AT HAND

Two brand new hospitals are opening in the southeast region within a year. The HealthOne Sky Ridge Medical Center opened in August 2003 and Centura Health Parker Adventist Hospital will open in spring 2004.

"There is probably nothing that excites Douglas county residents more that the two new hospitals going in," Miller said. "it's one thing to have a golf course or a rec. center, but especially as we get older, it's another to have a hospital."

Sky Ridge is located on a 42.5 acre site at the corner of Interstate 25 and Lincoln in the Lone Tree subdivision of Douglas County. The hospital includes emergency, obstetrical, cardiac and diagnostic services as well as private rooms, a healing garden and a playground.

Parker Adventist is on the corner of Parker Road and E-470, in the new Crown Hill Park. The 101-bed, 210,000 square-foot facility will boast private patient rooms and a birthing center.

The hospitals themselves will generate jobs in the area as well as providing services to residents. And even with a nursing shortage, Miller says Sky Ridge has not had any problem with getting applications "Their presence gives a boost to the economy," Miller says.

Vogt says the hospitals are part of a balance needed in the community. The developments are needed to serve the residents of the area and are connected to other developments of schools and transportation, making the area an even more desirable place to live and work, Vogt says.

HELPFUL WEB SITES:

Southeast Business Partnership

http://www.sebp.org

South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce

http://www.bestchamber.com

Centennial Airport

http://www.centennial-airport.com

T-REX information page

http://www.trexproject.com

Sky Ridge Medical Center

http://www.skyridgemedcenter.com

Parker Adventist Hospital

http://www.parkerhospital.org
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Title Annotation:metro Denver corridor development; Special Advertising Section
Author:Fulford, Martha
Publication:ColoradoBiz
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2003
Words:1221
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