The first retailers are open for business in the massive 4,700-acre mixed-use redevelopment of the former Stapleton International Airport in Denver.

Home Depot, Sam's Club and Wal-Mart opened this summer at the 740,000-sq.-ft. Quebec Square. The three anchors have since been joined by Just for Feet, Office Depot, Great Clips, Papa John's, Doctor's Vision Works and Radio Shack. Other retailers committed to the project include names such as the International House of Pancakes, Famous Footwear, Linens ‘N Things, Mattress Factory and McDonald's, among others.

“Interest is very high. There was definitely a hole in the market,” says Larry Klein, director of development at Forest City Commercial Development. Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises is the master developer of the 7.5-square mile property. “People were having to travel several miles to shop, so we have changed the shopping patterns of a lot of people in this area,” Kline says.

Quebec Square will serve a sizable residential base: 256,167 people within a 5-mile radius, not including the estimated 30,000 residents the Stapleton project is expected to attract. “We had a captive audience,” Kline says.

Quebec Square is just one component in the master plan for the former airport, which calls for the creation of more than 3 million sq. ft. of retail, 12,000 homes and apartments and 10 million sq. ft. of office space to be developed during the next 15 to 20 years. The development will be complemented by more than 1,100 acres of new parks and open space in a pedestrian-friendly community of neighborhoods.

Forest City's goal of creating a sustainable community where people can live, work, shop and play was recently recognized with a Stockholm Partnership for Sustainable Cities (SPSC) Award for smart growth. In June, the SPSC honored urban projects from 13 countries around the world for innovative solutions in sustainable development. The organization chose the Stapleton project in the category of public/private partnership cluster in recognition of the collaborative effort between the city of Denver and Forest City Enterprises.

Stapleton is the largest mixed-use, urban redevelopment currently underway in the United States. “Rarely do you find tracts of land like this located in an urban area,” Kline says. Stapleton is within five miles of downtown Denver. “It is just a huge hole, and we are filling it up with new homes, retail, office and industrial,” he adds.