While Denver International Airport was being constructed, planners began to consider how the Stapleton site would be redeveloped. A private group of Denver civic leaders, the Stapleton Development Foundation, convened in 1990 and produced a master plan for the site in 1995, emphasizing a pedestrian-oriented design rather than the automobile-oriented designs found in many other planned developments. Nearly a third of the airport site was slated for redevelopment as public park space.
The former airport 4,700 acres (19 km2) site 10 minutes from Downtown Denver is now being redeveloped by Forest City Enterprises new urbanist project. Construction began in 2001, and as of 2008, 3,200 single-family houses, row houses, condominiums and other for-sale housing, as well as 400 apartments, had been built. The new community is zoned for residential and commercial development, including office parks and "big box" shopping centers. Stapleton is by far the largest neighborhood in the city of Denver and a southern portion of the redevelopment site lies in the neighboring city of Aurora.
In 2004, residents moved into Stapleton’s first apartments, pushing Stapleton's population to 2,500 residents. In 2006, Stapleton’s population grew above 5,000 and the Denver School of Science and Technology opened along with The Shops at Northfield Stapleton. In 2007, the 80-acre Central Park opened along with three new office buildings. Additionally, Stapleton’s population surpassed 7,500 people.
Three years later, more than 14,000 people called Stapleton home and the trail network reached 38 miles. In 2011, Stapleton received national recognition as the site of the 2011 HGTV Green Home. Additionally, a new interstate interchange opened, connecting Central Park Boulevard to I-70, I-270 and neighborhoods south of the interstate. Now, Stapleton is celebrating 10 years of residential growth.
The community is expected to be home to some 30,000 residents in 12,000 homes, 10-plus schools, an 80 acres (320,000 m2) Central Park, a commuter-rail station, 10,000,000 sq ft (930,000 m2). of planned office space, 1,500,000 sq ft (140,000 m2). of retail space, and 1,100 acres (4.5 km2) for parks and open space. Stapleton's 1,100 acres (4.5 km2) of open space also borders the restored Sand Creek Regional Greenway and Bluff Lake Nature Center, one of the nation's largest urban wildlife refuges. The original airport draws its name from Benjamin Franklin Stapleton (November 12, 1869 – May 23, 1950) who was the Mayor of Denver, Colorado, USA, for two periods (comprising five terms), the first from 1923 to 1931 and the second from 1935 to 1947.