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Please join us for a carefully curated series of events spread throughout Aurora’s hottest new community, Painted Prairie. These micro events around the property aim to support safe social gatherings, while prioritizing everyone’s health and well-being.

Attendees will enjoy:
• Delicious food trucks serving up tasty treats
• Live outdoor music and entertainment
• Surprises and prizes around every corner
• 7 gorgeous outdoor parks with well over 22 acres of greenery
• Available tours of our 13 stunning model homes

Tickets are required. We are asking all attendees to choose a ticket based on their arrival time as availability is on a first-come, first-served basis. Attendees will be required to wear a mask while attending events.

Click here to visit Eventbrite for details.

Please note: Our program policies and procedures are subject to change based on evolving COVID-19 guidelines.

At Painted Prairie, our number one priority is the health and safety of our residents and visitors in our community. As the state and local municipality guidelines evolve and shift regarding COVID-19, we have continued to work with our homebuilders and construction personnel to monitor the changing safety requirements and implement best practices during both the Stay and Home and now the Safer-at-Home orders set forth by the state of Colorado. 

During this time, all Painted Prairie homebuilder partners are open by offering virtual walkthroughs, private ‘safety enforced’ appointment options, and virtual tours of their model homes. Realtors may schedule personal virtual model home tours or bring clients to the community for showings by appointment only if they maintain social distancing and other enforced safety standards. After personal showings, the homes are disinfected by the homebuilder to safeguard the health of the staff and future visitors.  All Painted Prairie homebuilders are offering online sales support in addition to their model home virtual tours on their websites to service prospective homebuyers.

We appreciate your understanding during this time. Rest assured that the Painted Prairie community of builders and developers are working diligently to keep you safe. Be well. 

Step inside the details behind Painted Prairie and its park system with Craig Vikers of Civitas, as he explains his vision and focus behind the design.

The tenacity, drive, and will to succeed in this harsh but beautiful landscape are remarkable parts of the Colorado saga, but they can be so easily overlooked! 

For me personally, to find inspiration for the design of the High Prairie Park was not difficult. I grew up exactly (as a crow flies) 17 miles south of Painted Prairie in a similar environment. Imagine rolling prairie with arroyos, cottonwood galleries and ponderosa pine stands. I won’t lie, this was an incredible place to grow up! I loved playing hide and seek in the winter wheat fields at night before harvest. As a little kid the mature wheat was over my head. All you could see while you were running around was the wheat falling in front of you, and that made for wild game to be certain. Granted, not something the farmers appreciated, but truly thrilling and only something you could experience in the prairie.

Imagine a great snowstorm where high winds would fill the arroyos up with snow to the point where you could run and jump into drifts eight feet deep. Or imagine catching frogs and salamanders in the nearby stock pond (sadly I don’t hear that sound much anymore) or building forts and treehouses in the pines and cottonwood galleries that occupied the ground where water collects, or simply pulling out the stamens of the Indian paintbrush flower in the summer to taste the sweet nectar. For me this was commonplace—this is what I recall. My memories and experiences growing up in this environment are diverse and interesting but also familiar and comfortable, as this landscape offered all I could want. Yet, at a glance, it appears to be simple and even dull to someone who visits from other places or climates. But here we are, and people like my parents have decided to make the prairie their home.

This is exciting to me, as I would like others to experience here in Painted Prairie what I was fortunate enough to have as a kid. However, it’s not that simple as the density of homes and the necessary language of streets, lights, signs, and fences by nature diminish the qualities that make the seemingly dull prairie landscape so beautiful and so impactful. What a challenge! This is why it is so important to create parks and open spaces that are authentic and true to this place. The entire development/design team had to be focused on ensuring the values, spirit and the prairie aesthetic would be fully integrated into every home, every street, and every public space. The design is nuanced and it’s thoughtful, but what makes it special is that it truly comes from the love of the prairie—all that comes with it and all that is absent. 

I first considered what would make a memorable park at Painted Prairie. For me, inspiration starts with the notion that human settlement here at a community scale, unless nomadic in nature, is nearly impossible. Limited resources such as water and timber and the sheer vastness of this treeless landscape renders this environment unlivable without exceptional human ingenuity, bold vision and guts. Consider for a moment what is required to make this land not only livable, but productive, and productive at a global scale, you soon realize how herculean the effort to settle here was.

Seventy-one miles of the Highline Canal was dug by hand to deliver water from Waterton Canyon to this arid prairie to make crop production possible, railroads delivered necessary goods, human resources and dreams to make commerce possible, all while people tried damn hard to make a go of it. An incredible challenge to say the least, but it did come with some cost—the cost to the indigenous peoples who traveled and lived off this land and cost to the landscape itself. What was once a hardened and delicate self-sustaining ecosystem of flora and fauna is now one of the world’s breadbaskets, delivering grain and produce globally as well as locally.

Now fast forward a hundred and fifty plus years. Today over 500 thousand-acre feet of water is diverted to the Front Range from west of the Continental Divide annually to support multiple communities with rich and diverse economies. Now that’s what I call bucking grade! We have the ability to travel rapidly within the region and navigate the globe with ease, as well as to import and export ideas and products. We are completely interconnected now. We all can argue whether it is right or wrong, but it is where we are at right now. I would argue it is a part of what makes us special and unique. Yes, we definitely have to think hard now about how to manage our precious resources moving forward, but if we apply the same work ethic and pioneering spirit we have applied elsewhere, then we are certain to succeed. With this rapid pace of cultural, social and economic advancement, what was once simple has become complex. Yet, it still is our distinct high plains prairie, boasting continental-scale mountain views and a lifestyle that is still rooted in the DNA of this landscape. It’s tough but delicate, it’s bold but poetic, it’s colorful and muted. 

This land has an incredible story that wants to be told. This also inspired me! As a designer, I placed my passion and focus to imagine a neighborhood and a signature park system that not only gives you glimpses into the history of this romantic and evolving story, but also lays the groundwork for people to make their own memories, build new traditions, and tell their own story—all within a context that is new and time tested simultaneously. For Painted Prairie, I sought to develop a design expression that would be fresh and compelling to people because of its graphic beauty and materiality, but I felt the design should come from elements of life on the prairie that has given this region its form and character.

Have you ever noticed the beautiful circles and squares that quilt the landscape from an airplane window? And have you ever noticed the pattern lays perfectly in a grid and if there are amorphous shapes that bust the grid, you can bet that a rock outcrop or a drainage way, a stream or lake is responsible. This, of course, is due to how our founders planned the west. The Jeffersonian Grid defines a basic road network that is laid out on a one square mile grid. Within it, the land is broken down and subdivided for an array of uses, including agriculture, which is by far the most dominant land use in our prairie environment. In 1948, a game-changing advance in agricultural irrigation—the ‘Central Pivot Arm’—transformed an arid landscape fed by well and canals (and full of opportunity) into a highly productive continental-scale garden. In the design of the park, these patterns are expressed, but the use has been reinvented to make a place that people can enjoy for recreation.

A system of Urban Pivots captures the graphic tapestry of our agrarian landscape, but what we hope to harvest here is laughter, family time and the fruits of a tight-knit community. The Urban Pivots are integrated into sweeping prairie dunes, arroyos and a bluff landform we call The Sunset Ridge Promenade. The promenade features shade pavilions, a lofted sand beach, and a variety of gardens designed to attract people to play together, enjoy solitude, and to encourage roaming and exploration. The diverse array of park places and activities all celebrate what it means to live on the prairie, play in nature, and relish the incredible views and unbelievable skyscapes that demand our attention—even if we often miss due to our busy bustling lives.

So, where did this all lead? 

If you pay attention, the land tells you what it wants to do. For example, the last mile of the Highline Canal I mentioned earlier runs south to north through the western part of the Painted Prairie site. And if you walk that last mile, you will soon recognize that the human effort to dig the canal by hand from its source 71 miles away to carry water at a nearly flat pitch is simply incredible! Oh my God, how did they do that without dozers and heavy machinery? If you don’t know the story, it appears to be just another ditch. You can jump across in places or not even notice it at all, and what does it matter? Well, actually this little ditch and others like it mean everything to the modern story of the Great Plains and how they were settled!

Earlier, I told you about a natural ridge feature in the park. It sits about sixty vertical feet above the ‘Last Mile’ and what it offers. But what I didn’t mention is a panoramic and unobstructed view to the Front Range of the great Rocky Mountains. From here you can see over 150 miles of the continuous mountainscape, just a small portion of the mountain range that completely divides our continent. An incredible view indeed, but there is so much more to consider at this moment. This is why ‘The Ridge’ is the center of the park. My personal passion was to allow folks to walk this ¼ mile-long promenade to enjoy those mountain views on one side and contemplate how those mountains impact life here on the prairie. In simple terms, those mountains are what starve this landscape of water, thus the prairie. Yet through human ingenuity and creativity, we have engineered systems to convey that water from those mountains to our kitchen sinks. Again, that’s a remarkable feat.

As you stroll the ridge to its northern terminus you will find a great place to sit on old’ time ski lift chairs and view those white-capped peaks that harness that precious ‘White Gold’ that is so necessary for us to survive all the way out here. It’s our relationship to those mountains and the resources they offer that create such a diverse economy rich with industry and commerce here in the prairie. It’s fun to think that the same water that makes crop production possible way out here is also harvested to produce so much fun and enjoyment! Carving turns, throwing a double daffy, and soaking up a bluebird day on the boards is a deep part of our collective culture, whether you actually ski or not. When you swing in the lift chairs you will view not only the ski resorts that you’ve come to know and love, but you will also learn about the resorts that have gone away. Places like Ski Pikes Peak, Ski Broadmoor or Hidden Valley Ski Area in Rocky Mountain National Park. In most parks around here with mountain views, you will find a plaque that shows the mountain panorama and identifies every peak in view that’s over 14,000 feet above sea level.

Just to mix it up a bit, here at Painted Prairie, we focused on revealing the resource that makes life here great including those resorts but also the water reservoirs, lakes and streams that bring water to the great plains. Anchoring the opposite and Southern end of the Ridge Promenade are the Community Gardens and Butterfly Landing. Here we wanted to offer the community a place to make their park productive, dig in the dirt a little, and share a harvest together. This is the domestication of the prairie at work, but more importantly, it’s about building a community around the same values our settlers had.

There is however a more insular story to tell here as well. The collective development/design team wanted to create an ‘arroyo’ that captured the erosive nature of water moving over soft soil. The carved and hollowed landscape supports multiple species of both plants and animals as well as the silhouette of trees that support so much birdlife. Here we want you to immerse yourself in and discover a micro world that is common in the prairie. Catching butterflies or Prairie Skippers, sledding down a hill after a big storm, or harvesting fruit along the Ridge are experiences that people will cherish all seasons of the year. It’s interesting that way; I wanted the park to have many experiences, but I wanted them to be discovered as the park unfolds. It’s deliberate that while playing in the arroyo, you get a glimpse of another feature in the park hundreds of feet away—or vice versa. This is how we intended the park to be used: all visitors bouncing from one feature to another and finding places they want to stay and hang out depending on the time of year, what’s happening in the park, or personal preference. 

I genuinely wanted this park and the other pocket parks in the neighborhood to be dominated by the native prairie landscape but juxtaposed with the domesticated elements and forms that shaped the prairie today, while celebrating the pioneering spirit that forged the heartland. To me that is what makes the park authentic! But I also want High Prairie Park to be responsible and set an example for how to use water in this region and honor the simple beauty of this land. I have always felt that our native prairies are gorgeous and the import of design aesthetics from other places as a means of changing the prairie into something it’s not is fundamentally flawed. I’ve always wanted to help to create a design aesthetic in our region that is uniquely ‘Front Range Colorado’ because of the obvious conservation reasons but also to expose or even amplify what is so amazing about our western landscape. Don’t get me wrong—there is a place for the imported and the exotic, but all in good proportion. After all, people always bring something to the landscape they inhabit, and of course, that is how culture is formed. From the Arapaho tribe to the settlers to the new residents of Painted Prairie, our goal is to reveal this richness, tell some stories, and more importantly, leave some pages blank for others.  Hopefully, we succeeded in this endeavor. 

So, with that, let me tell you about some of what I think will be my favorite places in the park. If our team got it right, your favorite will be different from ours. It’s hard to predict how this community will make this park their own or what traditions might evolve, but one thing is certain: it will be fun to be a part of! 

My favorites

I am very excited about what we call the ‘Prairie Waives’. This portion of the park is dominated by grand windswept landforms that support tall native grass and hidden moments where families can picnic, and kids can play in nature. In this part of the park, you can become completely immersed in a prairie experience where the horizon meets the sky, uninterrupted by the built environment.

Closest to my heart would be the Arroyo and Promenade Bridge, in this case you can’t have one without the other. Both mark a pivotal moment when walking along the Sunset Ridge Promenade, in that the Arroyo is more of a dynamic feature when you can experience from above as well as below. The sense of enclosure and the framing of distant views by the bridge when you are in the arroyo is really special and, in my opinion, it’s a can’t miss experience when visiting the park.

Back to the grand scale! The Urban Pivots are one of a kind. If you think about what it takes to push a pivot irrigation arm around a ¼-mile turning arc, how can you not be at least a little impressed with this engineering feat? It literally has shaped the landscape of the entire center of our country and transitioned land that was susceptible to tragic losses as experienced in the dust bowl into a highly productive global garden with undeniable certainty. It’s pretty amazing. There are two edges to every sword, and even as this simple invention has helped to maximize crop production, it has also increased water consumption. Why would this serve as inspiration for a park design? We simply believe that it is a part of this great story of determination, ingenuity, and will. It’s, for this reason, we decided to express this landscape form in a juxtaposition with the native landscape. It’s interesting, beautiful and reveals in graphic form something that has clearly been a factor in what life is about on the American prairie. I really want you to feel the scale of this agricultural practice, so we framed the Urban Pivots (which of course were designed at a micro-scale) with an arching walkway that is actually a ¼-mile radius. Our intent is that when you walk this edge you will see and enjoy the patterns of the pivot gardens while you contemplate the scale of an actual ¼ section pivot arm. The radius point, designed by an artist to tell the story of this engineering feat, will pin the focal point of a community garden that is intended to bring people together around the notion of building community through gardening and working the land. In a future phase of the park development, you will see an actual pivot arm segment in alignment radially with the radius point. The pivot arm will be converted into a water/play feature that will shower visitors with periodic blasts of water. I think this will be wildly fun and educational simultaneously.

The Fort? Forget about it! Those are incredible. The design concept was simple, we all love the idea of a treehouse and how adventurous they can feel. It’s like the Swiss Family Robinson, only on the prairie. Heck, I still would like to have one. After the development/design partner conceived of the idea, we all knew we needed to get out of the way and let Beanstalk Builders do what they do. You just have to see them in person! For me to describe them would take too many words and would not do them justice. But my favorite quote from Marcus of Beanstalk, when asked how do you go from a concept sketch to these amazing structures, was simple: “the Log tells us where to go”. Wow, to me that sums up what life on the prairie has always been.

When you choose to settle in a landscape this demanding, you have to listen to what the land is telling you, what it offers, and what its limitations are. This is the fuel for human ingenuity, and I find that inspiring.

Painted Prairie is the only other Colorado community designed by the same team – Civitas and Calthorpe & Associates who successfully transformed Stapleton Airport into a world-renowned success urban redevelopment.

Meritage Homes is proud to announce its beautiful new community Painted Prairie in Aurora. This vibrant new community features townhomes that are available in three stunning floorplans and start from the low $300s. Each energy-efficient home is nestled in a convenient location — three miles east of Pena Boulevard on East 56th Avenue and only ten minutes from Denver International Airport. Beginning Saturday, March 28, you can set a personalized appointment to view our beautiful new models.

To learn more about Meritage Homes at Painted Prairie, visit

The Prairie Partners program grabs the top spot as the Best Broker Relations Program in the country

AURORA, COLO., March 15, 2021 — Painted Prairie’s, Prairie Partners Broker Relations program, was recognized as one of the year’s most outstanding work in residential real estate sales, marketing and design at the National Sales and Marketing Awards Ceremony (known as “The Nationals SM”), one of the building industry’s most prestigious events. Hosted by the NAHB National Sales and Marketing Council, the event took place March 5, as a virtual event with nearly 1,000 attendees. 

“The Nationals are the most prestigious awards of their kind, setting the benchmark for innovation in new home design, marketing and sales,” said Angela Harris, 2020 chairperson of The Nationals. “NAHB’s commitment to recognizing originality, imagination and success has been exemplified by its award winners since the competition’s inception. “A diverse panel of industry professionals from across the country selected Gold award winners from more than 900 entries. 

Painted Prairie also brought home a Silver award for its Socially-Distanced Event Series which began with its Grand Opening in 2020. According to the NAHB, 12% of entries were chosen as Silver Honorees, with 4% earning the Gold Award. 

“At Painted Prairie we are dedicated to the success of our builder and broker community, this program is all about reinforcing our commitment to their mutual success,” said Cheryl Schuette, Marketing Executive for Painted Prairie. “It was an honor to receive two 2021 silver awards in the national category, and a thrill to win the Gold!”

The Prairie Partner Broker Program works to build relationships with our broker community and our builder partners. Our very own Broker Relations Ambassador, Neneh Biffinger is consistently out in the community hosting safe, socially distanced in-person, as well as virtual, events to promote the community and create a best-in-class experience for all real estate professionals. 

Design and marketing services provided by Stephens Studio, Encinitas, Calif., and local agency Moxie-Sozo, Boulder, Colo., are the marketing agencies of record for Painted Prairie. 

To learn more about The Nationals awards program, visit To learn more about Painted Prairie, visit

About Painted Prairie

Painted Prairie is a neo-traditional design/land plan community designed by Peter Calthorpe at Calthorpe Associates, with the assistance of Mark Johnson at Civitas Denver. It is the only neo-traditional master-planned community in the northeast market of the Denver Metro Area. Painted Prairie is situated for easy commutes and access to Denver’s arts and cultural activities. Situated across the street from the Gaylord Rockies Convention Center and located halfway between Anschutz-Fitzsimmons and Denver International Airport, with easy access to the A-Line rail, E470, DIA, 56th Avenue, I-70, Downtown Denver, and I-225, the community is conveniently located from just about anywhere. Construction of Painted Prairie began upon the formal groundbreaking on September 21, 2018. Construction is slated to continue through 2030.

Media Contact:

Michelle Tripp


There are lots of apartment dwellers peering into the new year who are wishing they could escape their rental world for something attainably priced that they can own — exactly the profile of buyers who have been quick to take advantage of KB Home’s new Villas designs at Painted Prairie near DIA.


KB Home’s Villa Collection is comprised of paired homes — sometimes called “single-family attached” — that offer a huge jump in quality of life for anyone coming out of an apartment. 

At Painted Prairie, a master-planned community now open south of East 64th Avenue on Picadilly Road, they’re wrapped in trails and amenities including a 22-acre community park already visible, with playgrounds, picnic tables, and a community garden; with an urban town center planned to have a fitness center, unique retail and dining.

“These are buyers that definitely don’t want a condo or apartment,” says Randy Carpenter, division president at KB Home Colorado.

He adds that some early buyers have also gone to families moving up or re-sizing from older houses in nearby areas like Green Valley Ranch. Carpenter notes that KB Home sales representatives priced out monthly costs for one of these for a buyer coming from an apartment along the DIA freeway, and found that the cost was pretty much the same as she was paying to rent.

These start at $345,000 — a real price that will get you in with air conditioning, privacy fence and KB Home’s energy features already included.

You’ll tour two model homes that have size and brightness that sets them apart from typically attached home concepts — including a Cypress plan, offering a choice of three or four bedrooms and 2-1/2 or 3-1/2 baths, 1,430 square feet of finished space and a two-car attached garage. Basements are available as an option.

If you like the looks of these, KB Home has a roomier Walnut design that’s ready to go now, with three bedrooms plus a loft, a main floor den, showing 1,883 square feet of finished space, priced at $409,000.

If you have time for a plan to be built from scratch, KB Home can show you a number of sites available now that face onto that Painted Prairie community park, where you could personalize your home using the KB Home Studio and its professional design consultants to bring your ideas to life. 

Painted Prairie’s location is attracting sales from members of flight crews out of nearby DIA, as well as from other airport staff and from the Gaylord Rockies Resort. The Fitzsimons/Anschutz medical campus is about 15 minutes away, and nearby E-470 puts tech campuses either at Interlocken in Broomfield or in Meridian or Lone Tree all within a half-hour.

All plans are Energy Star-certified.

To reach Painted Prairie, where KB Home also shows single-family designs, take E. 56th east from Tower Road to Picadilly and turn north, or take E-470 to E. 64th and head west.

Painted Prairie’s High Prairie Park is more than just a playground. It is a place where all ages and abilities can play among a series of treehouses and natural landscapes. Isaac Hoff of Beanstalk Builders shares the vision and inspiration behind the Denver Metro Area’s next best community gathering place.

“As visions of Painted Prairie came to be, the focus was on creating something that the kids have never seen before. Giving them creative pause on how best to play, explore, and adventure through We also wanted to tap into the natural elements, giving the playground a natural look and feel, with the treehouses being positioned to capture the mountains and the surrounding landscape.

As the idea progressed, we also wanted to create accessibility components to enable a diverse age group and a diversity of abilities to play. As the design came to be, we began to think of ways that provoked imagination, sparking life, excitement, and growth. As we put together different elements, we created a varying array of difficulty, using each bridge and traverse as a means to build confidence. Including little touches here and there that added to the authenticity of this build.

The hope with all of this is that this sense of wonder, imagination, and growth transcends into the development of the child. Enlivening movement, fitness, mental acuity, and the purity of just having fun. Our hope, in the end, is that this playground becomes a hub for the community of Painted Prairie, a place where people laugh, play, and thrive together. In this, we feel like it will be a job well done. This is our ultimate barometer of impact. Did it create happiness? Did kids grow from it? Was it fun? Did it help bring a community together?

This playground has been a dream to build. As a kid, when I envisioned a really cool playground, I feel like it would have looked something like this. As a kid, I wasn’t able to execute that vision fully, but now with bigger tools and toys, it is great to see that vision come to fruition.” — Isaac Hoff, Beanstalk Builders

David Weekley Homes, the nation’s largest privately-held builder, will soon begin building award-winning homes in the Aurora community of Painted Prairie. Located just 15 miles from Downtown Denver, the 628-acre Painted Prairie will offer six single-family floor plans.

Painted Prairie will feature a mix of ranch-style and two-story floor plans ranging in size from 1,500 to 2,700 square feet of living space. The community, nestled on the last high land facing the Rocky Mountains before the Platte River Valley, will maintain a connection to nature with community gardens, trails and parks throughout the community. 

Residents in Painted Prairie will also be able to enjoy City Lake, a future upscale Town Center with restaurants, boutique shopping, craft breweries and more. Homebuyers will also have convenient access to Peña Station, E-470 and Highway 287, as well as proximity to Denver International Airport, Anschutz Medical Campus and Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center.

For more information about David Weekley Homes in Painted Prairie, contact 303-872-5030.

About David Weekley Homes

David Weekley Homes, founded in 1976, is headquartered in Houston and operates in 20 cities across the United States. David Weekley Homes was the first builder in the United States to be awarded the Triple Crown of American Home Building, an honor which includes “America’s Best Builder,” “National Housing Quality Award” and “National Builder of the Year.” Weekley has also appeared 13 times on FORTUNE magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For®” list. Since inception, David Weekley Homes has closed more than 90,000 homes. For more information about David Weekley Homes, visit the company’s website at

Painted Prairie’s parks project leader, Diane Lipovksy describes her vision for the park system at Painted Prairie in this essay on the inspiration, design, and details of High Prairie Park.

Life on the Prairie. The beautiful, subtle, serene, and enigmatic prairie. It is so different from where I grew up, in the green urban woodlands of the East Coast, and perhaps it is the contrast that I saw when I came here that made it seem that much more beautiful to me: the open vistas, the clear blue skies, and electric sunsets, the texture of the grasses, the smattering of trees that signal a precious water source. The promise of those wild Rocky Mountains that have drawn people across the prairie for hundreds of years.

When we began work on the park system for Painted Prairie, we wanted to create truly special open spaces for the future residents here, spaces that celebrate this historic prairie setting while providing the communal amenities that really draw and anchor people today We see the parks as the living rooms for the people of Painted Prairie — the central social spaces at the heart of the community that people want to visit again and again. We wanted to create beloved outdoor park spaces where neighbors can meet and gather, to set up green connections that foster healthy movement, and to carve out unique spots where children from 0 to 100 can play outside, in nature, and just relish in the pure joy of childhood.

Our inspirations for the big neighborhood park were many, including that gorgeous setting, its position at the natural high point of the landscape, and the panoramic views to the mountains. But one inspiration that really struck a chord for everyone throughout the process was Harvey Dunn’s stunning painting “The Prairie is My Garden.” The image of this homesteading woman, standing proud, strong and mighty with her children on the prairie backdrop reminds us of the fortitude required to live here before the great industrial revolution tamed the land and its waters. The colors and textures of the plants, the breeze, the electric sky are all elements we have tried to capture and enhance for people to discover in the neighborhood park. The other great source of inspiration is that very industrial of inventions, the irrigation pivot. At a full quarter-mile radius, this workhorse of modern engineering was what made these lands arable for people to live here and sustain its people. We have tried to capture that precision and that entrepreneurial spirit here at the park.

This is Painted Prarie, so we really tried to evolve the design of the park like a painting. Our first big move was to really celebrate the high point and those views, so we developed the promenade walk along that natural ridge facing Long’s Peak. In fact, the entire community was designed around keeping this natural ridge intact and making it part of the public space. We saw the promenade as a real concentration of outdoor rooms where most people will be gathering for their neighborhood barbecues, playing lawn games and sipping coffee when they run into a new friend. And the client as so committed to making this park one of the best and coolest in the Front Range, so we really tricked out the promenade rooms. The part I am most excited to see full of people is the naturalized arroyo play area. Descending 12 feet below the promenade and packed full of native Gambel oaks, little leaf mountain mahogany, native sandstone slopes, and featuring two custom concrete slides, we really see this place as an unbelievable chance for kids to go wild outside.

Then we wanted to highlight the scale and the feat of irrigating the prairie. Our land as we know here in Colorado is not the deep, fertile lands of the Midwest, and so providing nourishment through local agriculture requires incredible engineering and proper resource management. Early in the process, we looked at so many satellite images of the prairie, and we fell in love with the perfectly round, green panels that dotted the brown plains and signaled irrigated farmland. So at Painted Prairie, we marked the center of an irrigation pivot near the park entry along 60th with a sculptural art piece, and we designed a path along the quarter-mile radius it would extend to cover and water the land. From the promenade, you can really see it, and our builders took great care to make it sing with a single strong, beautiful curve. We then wanted to play with that motif of the round green panels, so we have developed a series of pivot circle gardens that emanate from the quarter-mile path for people to explore. We filled these with everything we would want to have a good time — xeric gardens for meandering, corn hole for playing, lounge chairs for relaxing, tables and chairs for picnics, and a custom concrete coffee table with chairs and a fantastical shade sail “The Osprey” for cover on a warm afternoon.

Next, we knew we needed to have large open spaces for kids to play soccer and adults to pound volleyballs and everyone to fly kites. Sensitive to conserving our precious water resources, we tried to concentrate the lawns at Painted Prairie to places we really needed it for active play and picnicking. Tucked at the base of the promenade and adjacent the pivot circle gardens, The Great Lawn is actually comprised of two lawn terraces that help step down from the high point of the community to the lower drainage areas, which provide stormwater management for the whole neighborhood.

Finally, to create a sense of mystery and discovery and really encourage people to walk through the whole park, the last big stroke of the brush was the Prairie Waves. These are a series of beautifully sculpted berms that negotiate the rest of the terrain down and to the west. Seeded with beautiful mixes of prairie grasses like blue gramma and little bluestem, moving through these landforms reveals a number of whimsical play areas we have tucked within them. And not only grasses; for an urban park, we have taken care to provide a wealth of beautiful trees that really do well within our landscape. Hackberries, catalpa, coffee trees, and honeylocust provide vital shade from our sun, structure in the winter and cover from the winds. But we also have several stunning Ponderosa pines that we sourced locally from the Black Forest here in Colorado. We have really tried to work with the ethos of this naturally arid land to carefully place plants and trees that work well with it, so we can provide a park experience that with the stewardship of its community will sustain generations to come.

There are so many great spaces we created along the promenade. We’ve got these amazing community gardens and a small orchard at the entry to the park because we really wanted to highlight the sense of community they create, the site’s agricultural heritage and our commitment to thinking locally here. I know when I lived in Los Angeles, I met many great people through my love of gardening and foraging for fruits, so I would love if Painted Prairie made it onto the Falling Fruits map. I’m really excited to see what folks will grow here and how they will make this space their own, and I can’t wait to come back to see people harvesting the fruits as they ripen.

Near the community gardens, we wanted to create a yin of discovery to the community garden’s yang of hard work. Here, we have a really nicely scaled butterfly garden. In the map view, we designed the gardens to mimic the shape of a Prairie Skipper Butterfly wing, so kids could run like a butterfly. We worked with folks at the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster, to select plants to help attract butterflies — species like Gaillardia, Butterfly Bush, Yarrow, Echinacea, and Prairie Zinnia. This is a nice alternative to the highly formal entry gardens, a place where kids and adults will be greeted with a more rustic cottage garden, one that really speaks to the Front Range plant palette.

We incorporated so many great little rooms into the design, to make a really rich and inviting experience for people of all stripes. We have two beautiful large picnic pavilions with fantastic views of the mountains and to a series of mini picnic pavilions, we’ve dotted throughout the rolling native hills below. We really wanted to amplify the opportunity for nature play, about two-thirds of the way down the promenade to the north, we sculpted a deep fissure in the landscape to represent a Colorado arroyo. Packed with tons of native shrubs and grasses, the arroyo allows kids to wend or slide their way down to the amazing spaces below and beyond. To span the arroyo along the promenade, we have this lovely, simple pedestrian bridge that really gives you the opportunity to stand and appreciate the incredible views both in and beyond the park. We put an overlook wall opposite the bridge, closer to the street, to draw you towards this great moment, and put some beautiful stone signage there to help tell the story of the arroyo landscape. At the end of the promenade, we wanted to terminate your view and experience with an opportunity to sit and relax — and then take off! We located our sand beach and chaise lounge chairs here, adjacent to three bright orange vintage ski chairlift swings that are angled toward the major ski resorts. I can’t wait to see people softly swaying in those chairs, really taking in the majesty of the mountain peaks and enjoying a calm, quiet moment amidst the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives.

Life on the prairie wouldn’t be complete without the magic of playtime. We wanted to give kids a special glimpse into the look and feel of the pioneer, so we really wanted to create a series of play experiences centered around the treehouse. We were inspired by the Swiss Family Robinson ethos, and so we worked with Beanstalk Builders out of North Carolina to craft some really beautiful experiential play features that really amp up the views of the grasslands, the mountains, and the different areas around the park. We loved Beanstalk’s whimsical approach to play and their unusual, natural style. These pieces are so unique here, but they really work with the prairie aesthetic we have developed here. We worked closely with Isaac Hoff and his team to create a suite of play features that would encourage kids and families to move throughout the whole park, from the cluster of treehouses nestled in Ponderosa Pines.

With its Grand Opening set for this weekend, locally owned and operated Denver area homebuilder, Epic Homes, will unveil its innovative new home collection in Aurora’s burgeoning master-planned community, Painted Prairie.

“I am so excited to bring the Epic Homes difference to the Painted Prairie community, and to introduce our company vision, which embraces people and relationships as its core value,” said founder and president of Epic Homes, Christina Presley, adding, “Our unique home designs, along with customizable options, give our customers the opportunity to personalize their home, making each Epic Home in Painted Prairie one of a kind.”

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