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Is Elitch Gardens moving to make way for redevelopment?

"In the near term, and I mean years, [there's] no chance of it disappearing in the near-term. It's going to be there for the foreseeable future."
Credit: Courtesy Revesco Properties
A look at the River Mile project, a proposed redevelopment of the 62-acre site where Elitch Gardens sits.

Elitch Gardens theme park isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

That's according to Rhys Duggan, president and CEO of Denver-based Revesco Properties. Revesco Properties co-owns Elitch Gardens with Kroenke Sports & Entertainment and in March announced plans to redevelop the area surrounding the theme park into "River Mile."

"In the near term, and I mean years, [there's] no chance of it disappearing in the near-term," Duggan said. "It's going to be there for the foreseeable future."

Duggan spoke to 9NEWS after Denver City Council on Monday unanimously approved an amendment updating guidelines for redevelopment of a 62-acre area of land that includes Elitch Gardens and many of the surface lots surrounding it. The amendment also encompasses other parts of downtown, such as the areas surrounding Denver's Downtown Aquarium and the Children's Museum of Denver.

Duggan, who was present at the city council meeting Monday, said at the meeting that long-term, it's tricky to get an urban amusement park, "and there’s a reason why there’s not very many in the world."

"Finding a great site within metro Denver is challenging, but we’re committed to looking at it for sure," Duggan said.

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According to the conceptual plan, Revesco's "River Mile" at full build-out will include office buildings, hotels and conference centers, residential units, retail shops and towers.

But that's way, way down the road, Duggan said. The firm's long-term vision for the area will take place in multiple phases and will involve working closely with the community to meet city guidelines for downtown redevelopment, which include walkability, affordable housing, open spaces and connectivity.

"Best case, we're a couple years out," Duggan said when asked the timeline for breaking ground on the first phase of River Mile. "I would give you a very soft 2020. I would say fastest case."

The initial phase of development will make better use of the 17 acres of surface lots surrounding the theme park by building a central parking garage on the property.

Before that can happen, Denver City Council needs to vote on rezoning the area, something Duggan said he hopes happens this fall.

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Andrea Burns, a spokesperson for Denver Community Planning & Development, concurred. She said while the amendment approved Monday does open the door for building a neighborhood where Elitch Gardens currently sits, several additional steps must be taken.

That starts with a rezoning amendment that must be approved to allow Revesco and other downtown developers interested in the area to "develop up."

Ultimately, both Burns and Duggan said the park may be moved one day, but it won't be anytime soon.

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