AURORA | When he campaigned for Aurora City Council last year, Charlie Richardson heard two words over and over from his soon-to-be Ward IV constituents: Regatta Plaza.
“It was the number one issue,” Richardson said of the rundown and largely vacant shopping center at Parker Road and South Peoria Street.
Despite sitting just across the street from the Nine Mile light rail station with Interstate 225 running along one side and the bustling intersection of Parker and Peoria nearby, Regatta has been an eyesore for residents and a royal pain for city leaders for most of the last decade.
Only the King Soopers grocery store, a tire shop and a bank remain. Dozens of companies have cleared out in recent years, leaving several buildings vacant, many filled with trash and surrounded by a pothole-laden parking lot.
Richardson said the property had also become a magnet for panhandlers and other people simply milling about. Many of the residents in Ward IV live in the nearby retirement communities at Heather Gardens, Richardson said, and the decay at Regatta and it serving as a sort of hub for panhandlers was especially worrisome for them.
But by later this spring, city officials expect Aurora to be the proud owner of the vast majority of the property — 14 of its 21 acres — after a judge last month sided with the city in condemnation court. The move, officials say, means much of the property will at long last meet with a bulldozer.
Richardson said the condemnation is a huge step for the project, and paves the way for the long-dreamed-about redevelopment there.
“For the first time ever you hear (the developer) talking about potential windows of demolition,” Richardson said. “That’s exciting.”
Julie Patterson, a spokeswoman for the city of Aurora, said the Aurora Urban Renewal Authority filed condemnation proceeding Jan. 5 for the 14-acre chunk owned by John Buckley.
On Feb. 5, a judge issued an order giving the title for that chunk to the city, and said a valuation hearing to determine a price would come at a later date. Urban renewal expects to take title to the property around mid-March, and Patterson said demolition could start sometime in late spring or early summer.
The city is hoping for a similar outcome to another, smaller chunk of the property owned by Romesh Sharma. That 1.2-acre site sits right at the corner of Parker and Peoria. Patterson said a hearing on it has not yet been scheduled.
The rest of the property is owned by Kroger, the parent company of King Soopers, and Key Bank, both of which are expected to stay through the redevelopment process.
Plans for the site call for a mixed-use development made up of housing, retail and office space. In all, plans from Denver-based firms Mile High Development and Koelbel and Company call for 84 condominium units, 72 units dedicated to mixed-income properties, and 201 market-rate units.
The project is part of the city’s overall plan for the surrounding Nine Mile area and plans call for Regatta to be linked to Nine Mile via a pedestrian bridge connecting parking facilities there with facilities across Parker at Nine Mile.