Community Definition and Identity
Castle Pines began as a bedroom community in 1984. People moved to the area to be near the metropolitan area but away from it all. The community is located on a ridge approximately 1,000 feet higher than surrounding communities. This elevation affords the community majestic views of Pike Peaks and the Rocky Mountains and has majestic rolling hills, dense pine trees, and incredible vistas that make you feel you are living in the mountains, still just miles from incredible amenities. The City of Castle Pines was incorporated in 2008 and is one of Colorado’s youngest municipalities. The community encompasses nine (9) square miles. The city is geographically divided equally by Interstate-25 (I-25), an eight-lane highway. This division is both physical and cultural. The land on the east side of the I-25 is only now undergoing significant new residential and commercial development. In contrast, the west side is mainly residential with limited community service-focused commercial uses and relies on infrastructure from the 1980s.
Castle Pines’ current population is around 14,000, and our growth has been significant. Our population was 10,500 in 2018. Douglas County consists of four municipalities, Lone Tree, Parker, Castle Rock, and Castle Pines, and significant development in the county's unincorporated parts. The incorporated populations range from ~14,000 (Lone Tree) to ~73,000 (Castle Rock). Castle Pines is the geographic center of Douglas County. The growth that Castle Pines is experiencing was intentional by the City Council to create a greater sense of community, diversify housing options, and enhance the regional awareness of Castle Pines. The City Council has added an additional 6,500 new units approved developments following incorporation. Approximately 5,000 of these units are east of I-25 and began to be constructed in 2018 and will continue until full buildout when Castle Pines is expected to have around 33,000 residents.
On a national scale, it is challenging to determine similar municipalities since Castle Pines is in a unique place, given our age, size, incredible topography, diverse nature, wildlife, and pace of its growth. This research to identify peer communities continues to be a high priority for the city as a governing body and for our community excellence group (CEG).
Castle Pines’ identity is that of an upscale bedroom community with incredible vistas and built into the natural terrain – A place where people genuinely want to live, work, and play. The planned development expansion is intended to maintain the bedroom feel while diversifying the housing and adding substantial commercial and retail development. The draw of the metropolitan area is evident in how many Castle Pines residents commute to and from outside the city for work and entertainment. There has also been growth in the number of home-based businesses within Castle Pines. Entrepreneurs from across the industry sectors have located in Castle Pines for all the community has to offer. The City’s focus on infrastructure has solidified the city’s identity as the place to start or move your home-based business. The proximity of the Rocky Mountains also prompts residents to drive west for various recreation opportunities, such as trails and ski resorts. The Council’s focus on additional parks, recreation, open space, and trails also appeals to new residents moving to the City. These amenities and services complement the residential base and better reflect their needs and desires in community identity.
One of the significant challenges and opportunities for Castle Pines is the community’s desire for a city center, that sense of place, a thriving business district, and other physical elements clearly reflect the brand of Castle Pines. Residents love their neighborhoods and certainly feel a sense of place at that local level. However, they also want that sense of place at a city-wide level. Some elements of the existing community identity are residents’ above-average income and education levels, as well as the aesthetics and design of neighborhoods. Castle Pines is very family-oriented and appeals to this demographic more than any other due to the highly ranked elementary schools in the community, extremely low crime rate, and ample passive outdoor recreation opportunities.
Key Advantages and Challenges
Relative to the changes mentioned above regarding population increase and new residents, one of the most significant challenges that Castle Pines is facing is the need for a united ‘single community.’ I-25 bifurcates the city neatly in half, so a physical east-side versus west-side divide exists, and many residents identify with their neighborhood name instead of a resident of the city overall. We want to avoid this division as much as possible by framing the community as one whole instead of two halves, or neighborhood-specific, so that residents feel they belong to the whole community instead of one part. The main challenge that the current legacy side of the city faces is the lack of new amenities, such as roads and commercial development that will be brand-new on the city’s east side once fully developed. As a CEG, we must encourage and brand the entire community as Castle Pines with consistent physical cues such as signage and more invisible cultural cues to avoid division of identity.
A strategic advantage that Castle Pines is experiencing also relates to the new development occurring in the community. As the Denver metro region grows immensely, many people search for communities further into suburban areas such as Castle Pines to build lives. Our proximity to Colorado’s capitol is appealing because people can still access the amenities of a large city and enjoy the calmer lifestyle of the suburbs where they live permanently.
These strategic challenges and advantages are shaping the operations of our community and will heavily impact the articulation of our CEG’s mission and vision. As the CEG, we must adopt a perspective of embracing the challenges mentioned to develop and instill a sense of pride in being a Castle Pines community member. These challenges may exist briefly or become long-term ones, but the more we foster a culture of resilience within our excellence group, the better results we will see in the future.