Development Era (1971-present)
In July 1971 the Johns-Manville Corporation purchased the property to develop a master-planned community and build their world headquarters. Their headquarters building, designed to blend into the landscape, won prestigious architectural awards. As a result of massive litigation related to asbestos the corporation declared bankruptcy in August 1982 and divested itself of its Ken-Caryl holdings. In 1987 Martin Marietta, which eventually merged with Lockheed Corporation, purchased the world headquarters and about 1,000 acres of adjacent property.
Johns-Manville created the Ken-Caryl Ranch Corporation, headed by developer Dennis Carruth, as a wholly-owned subsidiary to develop and manage the Ranch in 1974. The Ken-Caryl Ranch Master Association (KCRMA) was established in April 1974 as a non-profit entity, with the Board comprised of three developer representatives. The first buildings were the sales center (now known as the Ranch House) and the Bancroft Fire Department (now West Metro Station 14), both built in 1975. The first developments were The Settlement and Quail Ridge. Prospective buyers would be driven to the sales office in a stage coach. By January 1977 over 150 families moved into new homes, and businesses began to open near the intersection of Kipling and Chatfield later in the year.
In 1980 the Ken-Caryl Ranch Corporation announced the opening of the Valley for development, beginning with the sale of lots in the North Ranch for custom homes. In 1982 the joint venture of the Ken-Caryl Ranch Corporation and Colrad Development announced new projects at Manor Ridge and The Enclave, and the establishment of a private club, the Valley Racquet Club. Development of the Valley resulted in the end of the ranching era, and the herd of Black Angus cattle was moved out. The barns and support buildings became the Equestrian Center, which opened its doors January 1, 1981.
The developers stepped out of KCRMA in 1990 as Ken-Caryl became a fully resident-controlled community. The Ken-Caryl Ranch Metropolitan District (KCRMD) was established by election in May 1988 to direct recreational programs and parks. In 1985 population growth in south Jefferson County enticed the City of Lakewood to consider annexation. For three years the discussion continued on whether to incorporate as South Jefferson City, as Ken-Caryl Ranch, to become part of Lakewood, or to remain unincorporated. In December 1988 the people resoundingly voted against incorporation.
Development required easy access, so the Centennial Parkway (C-470) slowly made its way towards Ken-Caryl. The Ken Caryl Avenue and southbound C-470 interchange was opened to great fanfare in September 1987. The rest of C-470 was not completed until 1990. Access on the east side was improved with the completion of Kipling Parkway. The arch at the east entrance was removed in 1982 in order to widen Ken Caryl Avenue. The South Valley Road was completed in 1989.
Today approximately 4,800 acres are dedicated as open space for Ken-Caryl residents. In 1993, the South Hogback was purchased by the Ken-Caryl Ranch Foundation for open space and in 1997, 895 acres in the South Valley and 14 acres at the intersection of South Valley Road and Valley Parkway were purchased by Jefferson County Open Space.
The Ken-Caryl area has been a superb place to live and raise families ever since the first hunter-gatherers found bison grazing on the lush grasses of the unique valley and the surrounding high plains. This rare region is a legacy of the Indians who found it, the tribes who fought for it, pioneers who explored it, and those who planned the present community with its wide greenbelts and vast open spaces to maintain that heritage.