University Corridor Retail Strategy

image of various drive-thrus


The City is currently conducting a Retail Corridor Study along University Blvd. from Arapahoe Rd. to County Line Rd. through Centennial. We are interested in receiving resident feedback throughout this process. Due to COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings, the City of Centennial has developed a virtual community meeting process that utilizes online resources. April 2021, the City asked citizens to share feedback as to whether the Land Development Code should be amended to allow restaurants with a drive-thru option along University Corridor, in a limited amount with enhanced design and safety requirements.


In 2019, the City began studying the University corridor by interacting with shopping center owners, analyzing sales tax and market data. Additionally, resident surveys were conducted to better understand what type of retail they visited and what kind of experience they desired.

In December 2019, members of City Council, Planning and Zoning Commission, staff, design experts, retail experts, shopping center owners, and developers toured the University corridor’s shopping centers. This group discussed current market data and sales tax to identify opportunities to prepare the corridor for the future of retail. In October and December of 2020 the City’s retail team presented updates on the University Corridor Retail Strategy to City Council, and has continued community engagement through meetings with CenCON in December 2020 and January 2021. A meeting with Planning and Zoning Commission was held in February 2021.

Retail strategy updates to City Council included a progress report, opportunities for a future-retail vision, and two initial strategies for implementation. Recommended strategies include:

  1. Updating the definition for mixed-use in the Land Development Code (LDC)
  2. Proposing the allowance of restaurants with a drive-thru option in a limited amount with enhanced design and safety requirements.

The City is considering this allowance for many reasons.

  • City research has found nearly 30% of vehicles traveling along the University Corridor do not start or stop within the City of Centennial. This pass‐through traffic presents an opportunity to capture new customers.
  • Restaurant trends have moved in this direction before the pandemic, and have since increased. Restaurants with drive‐thrus report anywhere from 30‐70% of their revenue from drive‐thru service.
  • Drive‐thrus have the opportunity to catalyze redevelopment because there is market demand to build them today. This is especially true if the drive‐thru is at the end of a multi‐tenant building. They allow shopping center owners to increase the rents of existing multi‐tenant retail buildings with higher profile retailers that allow developers to spend more on additional renovation.
  • We hear consistently that residents want local restaurant options. Local independent restaurant owners have approached the City, but have been turned away because their concepts include a drive‐thru and are not allowed in the corridor today.
  • The proposed regulations require drive‐thru development to provide pedestrian safety and design elements that will create a better experience in University Corridor shopping centers.

Currently, new restaurants with drive‐thrus are not allowed along the University Corridor. If they were to be allowed, the proposed regulatory changes are intended to enhance the walkability and vitality of our shopping centers. Staff would propose a residential setback of 100 feet, or 50 feet if a building or road is in between the drive-through and residential property. All drive-thrus would be screened with landscaping, fencing, etc.

View the Community Meeting Information