Denver neighborhood on former airport site exemplifies “new urbanism”

A new mixed-use development in Denver, built on the former site of Stapleton International Airport, is being touted as a model of “new urbanism.” Stapleton’s homes are situated close together, with garages in back and porches in front, creating walkable neighborhoods, and plenty of open space has been set aside for parks. But the money to finance such a major project — believed to be the largest effort to utilize vacant or underused urban land — has to come from somewhere. Enter: Quebec Square, a nearby big-box shopping center complete with Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Home Depot, and a 5,000-car parking lot, providing much of the property- and sales-tax revenue needed to finance Stapleton’s development. That doesn’t sit well with some of the more socially conscious residents. Unfortunately, it’s a necessary evil, says John Huggins, the city’s economic development director: “Residential development doesn’t pay enough taxes to pay for the services it requires.” Sigh.