We take a look back at the Riverwalk and Encore projects and see inside the mind of the man behind it all.
We take a look back at the Riverwalk and Encore projects and see inside the mind of the man behind it all.
Downtown has had quite the transformation. Even by the high expectations of those involved with the project, Riverwalk and Encore have been an unparalleled success. We wanted to talk with the man behind the vision and see how he feels about the project looking back. Enter Tony DeSimone.
DeSimone: We’ve found success developing mixeduse projects, where we bring in a residential component and the residential component helps subsidize the restaurant space in the retail to make it affordable to attract the right retail and restaurateurs. The new
buildings will help keep more people coming to downtown and spending time there.
My wife and her family has a long history in Castle Rock and Douglas County. Some of the family dates all the way back into the 1860’s when they homesteaded in Castlewood Canyon. I was introduced to Colorado in the Army after graduating from West Point. I was stationed at Fort Carson as my first assignment. I just loved Colorado. I would meet in Castle Rock to take my wife on dates back in the ‘90s. At the time, the town struck me as a charming town. When we left the military in 2005 and we actually moved to Castle Rock and raised our children in the town.
Not much had changed and I think what we realized is that it had a lot of potential. What concerned me as new developments started happening outside the downtown quarter was it was taking people away and we started to see business dying.
At the time we were developing all over Colorado. I approached my business partners Tim and Matt and talked to them about the opportunites here. And so we started to meet with the people in town. We mapped the town and looked at all the land at how we could make the biggest impact. We looked at what we thought downtown was needing, which really, everybody wanted more restaurants and people wanted places to work. Castle Rock staff and council were eager to make changes in their downtown but things hadn't started happening yet. We got involved in 2015 to make that impact. I feel like we had a good pulse on the local maket just living in the area. Once it was built it was a huge success. People were speaking with thier wallets coming out and spending money, going to the restaurants, wanting to be downtown. I think the thing that it’s really done is created walkablility in the suburbs. I think there's a growing segment that really wants that walkability and convenience of all these things. So, I think that's been a huge success to be able to deliver that.
The Town and the DDA put out a survey of things and they asked residents what they wanted to see in downtown. Number one on their list was restaurants.
The goal was really to give people a reason to come downtown. We really worked hard to get high quailty restaurants. That was a main driver; we made sure we had space for them in the project.
One of the things we're kind of proud of at Riverwalk is we have 60 people that live in the building that live and work downtown which means they're walking to work.
It has even exceeded our expectations, to be honest with you. I think we knew it would be successful; what’s really caught fire is it's become a community within a community. Again, that's what wer’e proud of. There's a ton of pride in being there and working there. I think we knew there was a need but I think where it's evolved to has exceeded our expectations.
I feel a lot of responsibilty to do a good job just because of my wife’s family history there, and we're in the community. We want to be proud when show up to our building and our communities.
What’s so great working with these small towns like Castle Rock and Parker: everybody is kind of rowing the same direction. They understand where they’re trying to go and then everybody is working to do the best they can.
We are working on an extension of Riverwalk. As mixed-use it has 28 apartment units above, and then we’ll deliver two new restaurants to downtown. One is a burger and burboun concept and the other one is a Ramen restaurant. Level two in that building will be all office space that we’re selling to business owners in town. And then across the highway we own the former Acme brick plant that is a 31-acre site. We’re working with the Town to rezone that. What we’re planning there is a $67 million recreational facility. It’s a little bit of a mix of uses with a hotel, a higher service, 120 key hotel. We’ll have some office space and then about 500 residential units on site.
To see what comes next and the progress of the project as a whole please visit www.confluenceco.com/real-estate-development.
We pit Castle Rock's Mayor Jason Gray and Parker's Mayor Jeff Toborg against each other for town supremacy. May the best town win.
Toborg: If you talk to Mayor Gray's wife, she wants a town like Parker ... if you talk to my wife, she wants a town like Castle Rock. Everybody wants what they don't have.
Gray: I think that there has been a friendly rivalry for quite some time.
Mayors Jason Gray and Jeff Toborg are two very different men. They lead two of Colorado's - and the country's - most sought after communities, nextdoor neighbors and competitors. Underneath the lighthearted ribbing they give each other, there's a real respect between the two civil servants and friends. As we spoke with them, we caught glimpses of the plans in place to keep these two towns ahead of the curve. Let's take stock.
Castle Rock is larger (34 square miles compared to 22) and more established with a larger population (84,000 to 64,000) than its brother to the north. Castle Rock's population has grown over 238% since the year 2000, and 710% since 1990. Parker's has grown 976% in that same span. Both communities have been featured nationally as top "places to live," received honors for their development and progress, and listed among the fastest growing and most successful places to raise a family. How do the mayors feel about the secret getting out?
Toborg: I would like to keep the secret, but if the secret's out I'm going to embrace the notoriety. I think people have recognized in Parker that "home town," that Hallmark movie, that Gillmore Girl event. People are looking for that. They're looking for something special.
Gray: Castle Rock has been on a steady increase in citizens since 2012. With that being said, the town is determined that a slowdown does not hurt our town services and our commitment to small-town charm and big-town amenities. Over the past years, Castle Rock, along with other Douglas County communities, have enjoyed unprecedented growth and fortunately a lot of Colorado and national awards. Keeping our town a wonderful place to live while the town experiences growth or a slowdown, is an utmost priority.
Being blessed to lead two of the most successful towns in the nation does not happen by accident. What have they seen that the other town has done well?
Gray: What is going on in downtown Parker is special. I talk with Jeff and other Parker Councilmembers often. What works in that town? What works here and so on. Helping each other's town succeed is very important. There may be some gentle ribbing in the process, but it's important that we have great communication and collaboration when needed. I love what is going on in Douglas County.
Toborg: I think what they have done is to go and systematically change the make up of their downtown. If you have a downtown that dies you can never revive it. They are not revivable.
What do the Mayors feel they have done well in their own towns, or what excites them about future plans?
Gray: There are quite a few things that I thought the Town Council did well. Two of the achievements that I really enjoy are the continued revitalization of downtown and the addition of parks and open space. I sure enjoy the entire State of Colorado but Douglas County is pretty amazing. Whether you enjoy the 100 miles of trails, or the 3000 acres of open space, there is plenty to do. The amenities in Castle Rock make leaving to do almost anything unnecessary. There is no shortage of opportunities for families who live in Castle Rock or visitors who want to explore our area.
Toborg: Everything excites me about Parker. It really does. Parker is on a precipice ... it is being seen now as that destination for big scale. But we still have small town, single propieter, mom and pop shops that are popping open every day.
I think what I'm really most excited about is the open space we are planning in ... we are allowing a big buffer space between Parker Vista residents and the new development. We are also protecting their viewsheds. We are making sure heights don't impact their views. We're also making sure we have a good mix of commercial as well as residential.
THE BEST PLACES TO DINE IN DOUGLAS COUNTY
In the interest of providing the 50 best dining options in Douglas County, we must be able to personally recommend each listing. The guide is subject to change. If you have a suggestion for inclusion on the list, email us at email@example.com.
Based on a typical dinner for one person, excluding drinks, tax or tip.
$ ............................. Under $15
$$ ............................... $15-$25
$$$ ......................... Over $25
(EC) Editors Choice
Offering a Chinese and Vietnamese-centric menu in a relaxed atmosphere.
17001 Lincoln Ave, #A, Parker 303-840-7338 $$
A small, family owned, dinein and take-out restaurant that serves authentic homestyle Thai food.
10841 S. Crossroads Dr., Suite 10, Parker 303-805-3880 $$
A local go-to for quality home-style cuisine. This Parker fixture is known for a fresh, creative menu.
19751 E Mainstreet, Parker 720-851-8559 $$
Chinese and Thai dishes that are nothing less than the culinary equivalent of an exotic adventure.
9232 Park Meadows Dr, Lone Tree 303-768-9088 $$
More than just great sushi! Junz has been a local staple for years and remains one of the premier destinations for a casual night out or fine dining experience. If you are seeking a great restaurant to get acquainted with Japanese cuisine, look no further than Junz.
A favorite sushi place in town with a unique blend of Japanese and French at its very best.
11211 S. Dransfeldt Rd., Parker 720-851-1005 $$
HAVANA'S BAKERY AND CAFÉ
A family-owned latin eatery who specializes in Cuban cuisine. They hand make all their flaky pastries and try to bring a tropical escape.
19757 Pikes Peak Ave, Parker 303-660-1935 $$ (N)
LA BAGUETTE DE NORMANDY
Certified master chef and chocolatier Michael Dupont serves a little piece of France right here in Colorado.
16524 Keystone Blvd, Unit C, Parker 303-805-9130 $
LA PETITE CREPERIE
The spot to grab madeto-order crepes. Sweet or savory, you can’t go wrong. 19751 Mainstreet, Parker 720-638-9722 $ (EC)
Don’t be fooled by this being a food truck; if you like southern BBQ, this is your place. Corner of Parker Rd and Longs Way, Parker $$$
Award-winning food. Try the wood-smoked ribs, brisket, pork, or garlic potatoes.
8433 Park Meadows Center Dr., Suite 143B, Lone Tree 303-729-2506 $$
The Parker tradition. Known for their baby back ribs, but don’t miss the pulled pork and barbeque chicken.
10335 S Parker Rd, Parker 303-805-9742 $$
OLD WEST BBQ
A hidden gem with familyfriendly pricing. Don’t miss out on their breakfast burritos. 107 Wolfensberger Rd., Castle Rock 303-660-6340 $
20 MILE TAP HOUSE
Best known for their burgers and wings. Make sure to catch Trivia Tuesdays. 12543 N Hwy 83, Parker 303-841-6782 $$
GREAT DIVIDE BREWERY & ROADHOUSE
Destination locale with an informal ambiance offering hearty comfort classics 215 Wilcox St Suite G, Castle Rock 303-955-5788 $$ - $$$ (N)
ROCKYARD BREWING CO.
Douglas County’s longest running brew pub. Steaks, burgers, pizza and soup!
880 Castleton Rd, Castle Rock 303-814-9273 $$
TAILGATE TAVERN & GRILL
Your neighborhood tavern for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Sports bar with live music not to miss on the weekends.
19552 E. Mainstreet, Parker 303-841-7179 $$
THE LIBRARY CO. BAR & KITCHEN
Offering great food & amazing drinks in a relaxed and warm atmosphere. Clear and simple menu options.
3911 Ambrosia St., Suite 101, Castle Rock 720-389-5986 $$
Comfort Italian food in a rustic, cozy, casual familyoriented format.
10047 Park Meadows Dr., Lone Tree 303-799-3661 $$
DANIELLE’S SCRATCH KITCHEN
Stylish, energetic eatery offering elevated Italian fare with an emphasis on great customer service.
872 Happy Canyon Rd. Suite 100, Castle Rock 303-524-9788 $$$
Authentic Italian eatery featuring pizza, pasta, calzones and heros. The local “go-to” for fresh Italian.
10920 S Parker Rd, Parker 303-841-9900 $$
A modern Italian restaurant focused on family recipes and premium ingredients. 210 Third St., Castle Rock 303-688-9000 $$
Neapolitan pizzas join modern Italian fare at this casual eatery featuring a full bar & patio. 10005 Commons St, Lone Tree 303-790-0828 $$
Intimate Mexican eatery for authentic cuisine in a relaxed ambiance. Great for parties. 7272 E Hwy 86, Franktown 303-663-7800 $$
Unassuming local joint serving up straight-forward Mexican plates.
9771 S Parker Rd, Parker 720-842-5105 $$
Vibrant, cantina-style eatery offering Mexican cuisine in a laid-back atmosphere.
18951 E Mainstreet, Parker 720-842-5181 $$
Bare-bones, family-owned local Tex-Mex eats for breakfast, lunch & dinner.
19553 E Mainstreet, Parker 303-840-0325 $$
LOS DOS POTRILLOS
Elegant family-owned eatery. There’s a combo dish to please everyone.
19340 Cottonwood Dr., Parker 303-840-6574 $$
Don’t miss the Carnitas! And bring your appetite for the large portions.
10471 S. Parker Rd., Parker 303-841-0160 $$
Set in a former 1890s hotel. Plating hearty American fare like pan-fried chicken & burgers.
403 Wilcox St, Castle Rock 303-814-2233 $$
CORK & KEG
Uniquely fun sports bar with a creative menu of brats and dogs. 971 Park St., Castle Rock 303-660-2399 $
A favorite gourmet burger joint. Imaginative menu with amazing handcrafted shakes.
3982 Limelight Ave, Castle Rock 303-814-2829 $$
DOUG'S DAY DINER
American breakfast cafe where everything is made from scratch.
3982 Limelight Ave, Castle Rock 303-814-2829 $$
A casual sit-down destination with a menu that reflects Colorado’s growing season.
2350 Meadows Blvd., Castle Rock 720-455-3664 $
The Parker landmark located right downtown offers a locally-sourced menu. Great service and large portions.
19420 Mainstreet, Parker 720-389-8105 $$ (EC)
A local favorite for breakfast or lunch. American, Greek or Mexican dishes.
313 Jerry St., Castle Rock 303-688-6746 $$
Comfort food and baked goods at their finest. Don’t see it on the menu? Ask for it!
11020 S Pikes Peak Dr., Parker 720-708-2889 $$
High-end, wood-fired kitchen with a warm ambiance, preparing select American dishes.
10680 Cabela Dr., Lone Tree 303-662-8800 $$
TRIBE AT RIVERWALK
Upscale, yet casual dining experience with a one-of-akind menu. Don't miss the brunch.
115 Wilcox Street, Castle Rock 303-362-0904 $$$ (N)
WEST MAIN TAPROOM
A modern and open venue that boasts thoughtful and honest cuisine. A haven for the gluten-free crowd.
18595 Mainstreet, Parker 720-826-3689 $$
A traditional family-style Italian pizza restaurant with a Brooklyn flair.
12947 S Parker Rd., Parker 720-851-5300 $
Delicious Neapolitan-style pizza that makes each dish an individual work of art! And don’t forget dessert.
12311 Pine Bluffs Way, Parker 303-840-0518 $
A refreshing take on madefrom-scratch pizza. So fresh they don’t even have a freezer! 17860 Cottonwood Dr., Parker 303-386-3333 $$
New York pizzas & other red sauce staples in a low-key setting. Can’t miss the garlic knots. 16526 Keystone Blvd, Parker 303-220-7422 $$
NY-style pizza, wings, & casual Italian eats, in kidfriendly quarters.
5650 Allen Way, Castle Rock 303-814-8686 $$
Rustic restaurant featuring beef & seafood dishes, plus a sports tavern with an Irish vibe.
363 Village Square Lane, Castle Pines
FOGO DE CHAO
Upscale Brasilian steakhouse with all-you-can-eat meat carved tableside. Guaraná is a must, and try the Creme de Papaya. 8419 Park Meadows Center Dr., Lone Tree 303-481-4001 $$$ (EC)
Chops, seafood, wine, & cocktails served in an upscale setting with a lounge & live jazz. 8433 Park Meadows Center Dr., Lone Tree 303-792-2571 $$$
TRAPPER’S CHOP HOUSE
Upscale hideaway local favorite featuring their signature Volcanic Hot Rock sear-it-yourself experience.
19308 Cottonwood Dr., Parker 303-248-2132
Quaint Tuscan grill made fresh from local fare. Every dish is a winner!
611 Wilcox St., Castle Rock 303-814-2487