A park construction site sits adjacent to and behind the Rodeo Market building in Westminster. The city received $618,000 from the federal government, some of which is being used to renovate the park.(Photo by Anya Semenoff, YourHub)

WESTMINSTER —It’s been a slow process and is far from done, but results are emerging 18 years after city leaders embarked on a mission to revive South Westminster.

More than $275 million in private and public funding spent the past 15 years is drawing a new wave of developers and interest to the area.

The decline began decades ago. While other parts of Westminster saw robust population and economic growth, the city’s southside languished.

Money has been bleeding out of the area for years, and wide swaths of neighborhoods suffer from blight, poverty cycles and a dearth of quality restaurants and other cultural attractions.

That’s quickly changing, said Tony Chacon, the revitalization projects coordinator for south Westminster.

“What you’re seeing here today has taken 18 years to get to, and I’d say we’re not even 50 percent of the way there,” Chacon said. “I’d say in five or six years you’re going to see a huge burst of activity in this particular neighborhood.”

A burgeoning arts district has formed in Westminster’s historic downtown area, attracting a host of small businesses and energy in the neighborhood.

Annual funding of more than $600,000 from the federal government has helped build new streetscapes and has backed public improvement projects, including renovations of a small park behind the historic Rodeo Super Market in the arts district.

Another $61.9 million has been invested in private real estate, including the redevelopment of Westminster Plaza, Northgate and LaConte shopping centers.

Seeing that kind of investment is encouraging to Becky Silver, who took a chance and purchased two pieces of property five years ago in the historic district.

She opened Aar River Gallery and helped the area gain an official Art’s District designation from the city. She has seen an influx of small businesses and young families move into the neighborhood.

“I wouldn’t put everything I had into this unless I felt confident it was a good investment,” Silver said.

City leaders say a confluence of events have come together to make the area ripe for investment. Other parts of Westminster have started to reach buildout, making redevelopment and infill projects on the city’s southside attractive.

Chacon also said many young professionals are getting priced out of the Boulder and north Denver housing markets, and Westminster is also reworking some of its zoning codes to promote private investment.

A major impact to the area will be the 2016 opening of a commuter rail station that will be the first phase of the Northwest Rail Line.

The city and its public partners are investing around $36 million toward commuter rail station improvements on 70th Avenue and Hooker Street. That project will draw another round of investment and energy into the area, said city manager Brent McFall.

“We’re looking at the RTD parking structure wrapped with either small retail operations maybe mixed with residential units,” McFall said. “The idea is it won’t be sitting there alone but will be integrated into the neighborhood and be a catalyst for redevelopment.”

The revitalization goal is to have a healthy mix of housing stock, increased opportunities for current residents, new investment and the ability to draw young families to the area.

“We’re not interested in pushing people out. We’re interested in doing things to make the neighborhood more welcoming,” Chacon said. “What we’re really trying to achieve is a more diverse socioeconomic balance through this area.”