The combination of the fifth busiest airport in the United States and thousands of acres of adjacent undeveloped land makes the aerotropolis a prime target for investment, enhancing Colorado’s attractiveness to high-quality employers who will create jobs, invest in the community, and strengthen the economy.
Mirroring Colorado’s already diverse economy, the aerotropolis is expected to attract a wide range of industries, especially those that rely on time-sensitive manufacturing, e-commerce fulfillment, telecommunications, and logistics. Already, the aerotropolis area is nurturing innovation in renewable energy, aerospace, transportation, and smart city technologies.
An aerotropolis is a dynamic urban plan in which the layout, infrastructure, and economy are centered around an airport. Airport-centered development seeks to take advantage of the connectivity that air travel offers to people and industries. Aerotropoli are powerful engines of economic development.
The aerotropolis is located on land in Denver and Adams Counties. It takes into account areas of influence that impact or will be impacted by current and future economic conditions on and off airport land. This includes land on DEN and in several municipalities (Aurora, Brighton, Denver, Commerce City) connected to the airport by major transportation corridors.
DEN is at the center of the aerotropolis development, but the area of impact extends well beyond the airport’s borders. The aerotropolis concept draws on the idea that certain industries and types of businesses require unique and direct access to airport facilities, but many more can benefit from general proximity to air travel.
The aerotropolis is not defined or anchored by any single development – it will be made up of many development efforts in the included jurisdictions. The ARC seeks to ensure harmony between the vast array of opportunities that will manifest in each individual community in the decades to come.
Adams County, the City and County of Denver, and Denver International Airport recognized the need for a joint vision and strategy to yield the best results for the region. These communities formed the Aerotropolis Regional Committee (ARC) to drive a coordinated effort to promote and market development opportunities on and around the airport. The committee is working together on the coordination of land use, infrastructure planning, and marketing efforts related to the aerotropolis.
Today, the ARC is engaging with local stakeholders and jurisdictions to understand existing planning, development, and jurisdictional objectives as a part of its strategic road map development. The ARC is working to ensure that the right people are at the table and the jurisdictions are moving forward cohesively.
Collaboration and differentiation: The ARC is developing an integrated marketing approach that will highlight the strengths of each community while showcasing the broader value of the aerotropolis in Colorado. The approach is designed to strengthen perceptions of Colorado and build awareness on the international stage.
Coordinated planning: While crossing jurisdictional lines can present challenges to the development process, the ARC is working to align efforts to strategically plan and prioritize economic development opportunities and things like infrastructure and transportation initiatives that will support economic growth in the region.
Joint vision for an internationally recognized and competitive aerotropolis that will be a significant asset for the region.
Responsible, thoughtful growth on and around DEN through a sustainable model for coordinated development that reflects the values of our collective community.
Attraction of primary employers and jobs that will continue to strengthen Colorado’s economy.
The ARC includes representatives for the City of Aurora, Adams County, the City of Brighton, the City of Commerce City, the City of Denver, and Denver International Airport (DEN).
Billion dollar regional economic impact
Million passengers each year
International destinations served
Top ranked US airport
The Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) completes the Metro Airport Study identifying two potential locations for a new commercial airport. Denver and Adams County ultimately select a 53 square mile site that would allow for future expansion.
Denver and Adams County execute an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) that laid the groundwork for economic benefits related to the airport to be split between Adams County and Denver. It also defined the power to set noise requirements and to define land use on and around the airport property. In a corresponding agreement, Denver annexed the airport site from Adams County. Adams County voters approved the annexation.
Formal groundbreaking ceremonies for the airport were held with 4,000 people in attendance, including an array of local and national leaders.
DEN officially replaces Stapleton Airport, becoming the largest airport in the United States in terms of land area.
The final stretch of E-470 opens, connecting DEN to three counties and six municipalities via a 75-mph highway that extends 47 miles from State Highway C-470 at I-25 in Douglas County to I-25 near 160th Avenue in Thornton.
The 15,000-acre Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge officially opens, becoming the largest urban wildlife refuge in the U.S. and home of the U.S. Government’s only owned Bison herd. The Refuge attracts over 300,000 visitors annually.
University of Colorado Hospital and Children’s Hospital Colorado open on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.
Dick’s Sporting Goods Park opens in Commerce City. The 18,061 seat stadium is home to the Colorado Rapids soccer team and hosts other international sporting and musical events.
• 2015: Denver and Adams County voters approved an amendment to the 1988 IGA. Per the amendment, Adams County and the municipalities within Denver will share (50-50) tax revenues generated from new commercial uses, while DEN retains all lease revenue from new commercial businesses. The amendment also stipulated the creation of the Aerotropolis Regional Entity whose purpose is to jointly promote and market development opportunities and assist in coordination of land use and infrastructure planning efforts.
Construction begins on the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center, featuring over 1,500 guest rooms and over 485,000 square feet of meeting and convention space.
The Regional Transportation District (RTD) University of Colorado A Line commuter rail line opens, connecting DEN to downtown Denver.
Panasonic launches its Smart City Innovation Showcase at Peña Station NEXT, a collaborative initiative to demonstrate leading technologies in smart, sustainable, healthy and connected places.
The RTD R Line Light Rail begins service, creating an easy connection between DEN and Aurora.
Amazon opens a 1-million square foot fulfillment center.
Groundbreaking and construction begins on the 1.8 million square feet 76 Commerce Center in Brighton.
The ARC partners with advertising, marketing and public relations agency Ogilvy & Mather to create a unique brand for the aerotropolis and develop a roadmap that guides future marketing, PR, advertising, and other promotional efforts. The ARC executes extensive market and stakeholder research to formulate a roadmap for the aerotropolis and region.