We Denverites know that Denver International Airport (DIA) was built in the middle of nowhere. Our old airport, Stapleton, couldn’t keep up with the volume that Denver was bringing in so they relocated the airport out into what feels like Eastern Colorado. It needed to be built out there, because it is (by area: 54 square miles) the largest airport in the United States. It’s also home to the longest public use runway in the United States, and it is the 15th busiest airport in the world. DIA opened on February 28, 2005, after many delays (remember the baggage issues?).
DIA is 35,000 acres large, which is the largest land area commercial airport in the United States; by quite a lot. That’s huge. This leaves room for more expansion, since Denver is becoming a popular hub city for large airlines. In fact, there’s room for two more terminals (D and E) out there. Before those can be constructed, A, B, and C can still be expanded outwards. The original designers set forth passenger volume “triggers” that DIA would have to hit in order to continue developing.
The first trigger was hit in 2008, asking the Parsons Corporation to add a new hotel, light rail station, and two bridges connecting to the main terminal. Have you been to DIA recently? This is what you have to blame the traffic and construction on. Yes it’ll be cool and accommodate way more people when it’s done, but it’s quite a headache to drive through nowadays. This will also add another runway, 20 or more new domestic gates, two new international gates, and improvements to the baggage system (heard that before). There’s no date on that expansion yet (thank goodness).
What does all of this mean? Well, a larger airport equals more people, and more people traveling from Denver. For those who travel frequently, there are neighborhoods near the airport that allow you to get there in less than 10 minutes. However, there haven’t been any large-scale developments yet. Enter Airport City.
In over 9,000 acres of developable land, Airport City will make its place. Surrounded by Commerce City, Aurora, and unincorporated Adams County, Airport City’s main objective will be to build a “city” surrounding the airport, leaving room for the future airport expansions. FlyDenver.com has plans that show the various kinds of zoning that will go in these 9,000 acres, such as office and business parks, hotels, commercial, mixed use residential and commercial, medium and low density residential, energy space, and recreational/open space.
The expansion will be broken up into five different areas: Gateway, Center, Logistics, Tech, Agro and Aero. The site breaks down exactly what is going into each of these, down to the employee parking. The residential areas will be around Airport City, in the surrounding cities, but still *right* outside of Airport City. It looks pretty cool. Here’s a brief rundown of notable things going into each area:
- Gateway: 1,210 acres, Wildlife Viewing, Open Space, Lightrail
- Center: 1,257 acres, Golf Course, Aerospace Technical Institute, Hotels
- Logistics: 259 acres, Postal Facility, Airport Operations, Distribution
- Aero: 1,966 acres, Airport Operations, Aerospace Manufacturing, Military
- Agro: 2,992 acres, Mixed Use Commercial, Perishable Storage (renderings show a big greenhouse), Hangars
- Tech: 1,738 acres, Business Park, Renewable Energy (big solar park), more Hangars
At completion, Airport City should go from E. 56th Ave up to 128th Ave, from Tower Rd. to Imboden Rd. One complaint about DIA now is that it’s in the middle of nowhere, and one complaint with Stapleton was that there was no room to expand. Now it seems that the designers are taking advantage of the middle of nowhere to build around DIA and bring it into the middle of somewhere; somewhere very exciting.