It is impossible to separate the concepts of sustainability and development. How cities and businesses choose to develop their communities plays an instrumental role in the natural environment. Luckily, Loveland and the surrounding region are in good hands thanks to environmentally conscious leaders like High Plains Environmental Center (HPEC) and Centerra.
Centerra – a 3,000-acre master-planned community developed by McWhinney and located at I-25 and Hwy. 34 in Loveland – is Colorado’s first certified Community Wildlife Habitat. This unique designation is a National Wildlife Federation certification for projects that create multiple habitat areas in backyards, schoolyards, corporate properties, community gardens, parks, and other spaces.
A key partner that helped McWhinney garner this certification was HPEC, which is located within Centerra. This urban environmentally friendly and outdoor living laboratory was the brainchild of Tom Hoyt, investment partner and mission advisor at McStain Neighborhoods. He envisioned a place where people could work and play while nature could simultaneously be restored.
“You can’t talk about conservation on one hand and development on the other as if they were two unrelated issues, because they’re not,” Tom says.
McWhinney co-founders and master developers of Centerra, Chad and Troy McWhinney, readily adopted this vision of preserving nature and restoring habitat by working with key partners to bring an eco-friendly and sustainable community strategy to life. Together, with the help of HPEC, they established 483 acres of open space and stormwater ponds within Centerra as a wildlife habitat that is accessible from sunrise to sunset, 365 days a year. The certified wild area includes 10 miles of trails with connection points to a regional trail system, two lakes – Houts Reservoir and Equalizer Lake – and is home to 150 different species of birds, fish and mammals that flock to the preserved wetlands.
When the environmental center was first created and the land was donated by McWhinney, the vast majority of HPEC land was weedy and disturbed agricultural land. One area was a literal dump and has since been cleaned up and restored. There is a variety of public education amenities to explore, such as HPEC’s Heirloom Fruit Orchard, Medicine Wheel Garden, a Native Plant Nursery, and the kid’s Wild Zone. Every plant and area has a unique story. Legend has it that some of these trees are descendants of Johnny Appleseed’s crop and others come from cuttings of Sir Isaac Newton’s tree (the one that’s responsible for gravity!). There’s also a native plant demonstration garden and a popular community garden where residents can plant seeds of their own.
“These projects benefit native plants, wildlife, and people through the creation of sustainable landscapes that require little or no pesticides, fertilizers, or excess watering,” said Jim Tolstrup, the executive director of HPEC. “Few people realize how much habitat has been created and is maintained within Centerra.”
HPEC, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, is located in the heart of The Lakes at Centerra, a McWhinney-developed residential community that backs up to Houts Reservoir and Equalizer Lake. The neighborhood offers homes for sale starting in the $300s and lies adjacent to miles of trails, a social hub at the Lake Club, an outdoor pool, playground, offers resident kayaking and is within walking distance to a pre-k through 8th grade STEAM school.
Centerra is just getting started. McWhinney is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and is expanding Centerra’s community offerings beyond The Lakes as residential development continues east of I-25, along Centerra Parkway. A new residential village by the name of Kinston is coming just northeast of The Promenade Shops at Centerra, and is planned to be different from anything else in northern Colorado. The name of the new residential community is a fusion of two concepts: kinship and town. The vision for an integrated community is central to the developmental plan, creating a neighborhood near a walkable urban village that elicits a ‘small town’ feel. Residents will be able to walk, bike, or drive to The Promenade Shops and The Marketplace at Centerra for dinner and shopping, walk to a summer concert at Chapungu Sculpture Park, and access trail systems, transportation, office parks and professional medical services within the larger Centerra community.
“We’re proud to showcase a strong legacy of environmental stewardship within Centerra,” said David Crowder, vice president of community development for McWhinney and general manager of Centerra. “We want to provide leadership that encourages developers to be motivated about these causes. Through our partnership with HPEC, we continually strive to make the best decisions about what is most beneficial for our community today and in the future.”
To keep up on the news on the upcoming projects that McWhinney has in Northern Colorado visit www.mcwhinney.com/portfolio/centerra/