How Tall is Five Stories? Park Place Olde Town Reaches to the Sky

by John Kiljan

Dear CLRC members and friends,

Park Place Olde Town (PPOT) construction is moving along at a rapid clip with the first apartments on the south end of the block expected to be rented out at the end of the year — even while the rest of the building is under construction. According to Arvada’s urban renewal authority, another temporary construction crane is expected to be set up to complete the top deck of the one-story parking structure that will be located under the four-stories of apartments being built on top of it. The project’s 153 apartments will look out over McIlvoy Park and Olde Town to the west, and over the Wadsworth Bypass and the Stocke-Walter neighborhood to the east.

Park Place elevator shaft reaches the top of the building

Park Place elevator shaft reaches the top of the building

But what’s of most interest is the height of the first elevator shaft constructed – the plain, tall, boring, square concrete tower that now sits at the south end of the site. It’s important because the top of the shaft defines how high Park Place will be when it is completed, and it gives a pretty good idea of what the profile of the finished building will be when viewed from the rest of Olde Town. More elevators shafts of the same height are to be poured for the north part of the building.

Aerial plan view without park trees

Artists aerial view of the finished apartments with adjacent park trees removed for clarity

Many Arvada residents have complained that the overall five-story height of the structure will loom over Olde Town Arvada and it will destroy – yes, literally destroy — Arvada’s historical and architectural heritage as well as its small-town appeal. They’ve also complained that PPOT will create a wall separating Old Town from the growing traffic on the Wadsworth Bypass to the east. I can understand most of these concerns, but with 60,000 cars a day moving up and down the Bypass, I really can’t understand why shielding Olde Town from the roar of traffic on Wadsworth wouldn’t be a good thing.

It’s time for a few personal opinions here: Looking back on some of the widely circulated information put out by a local neighborhood group, Save Arvada Now (SAN), about how the new building will tower over the City when it is finished, it appears that a lot of people were mislead by a few. Many people were genuinely frightened and angered by a video circulated by SAN showing artist’s renditions of what PPOT’s impact on Olde Town’s skyline would be. At the same time, SAN was posting its “Olde Town is being destroyed” video, the group was also asking for donations for legal action to help stop the project.

In my own opinion, the video was a gross deception, and there is no one in Arvada – whether they are for against this kind of development – who should not feel insulted by it. The truth about what is actually being built is a lot more reassuring to those who value the quality of life Olde Town brings to Arvada. Those who produced the video and promoted it should be ashamed of their deception.

For Arvada, five stories IS tall — there’s no doubt about that. But the construction of the first elevator shaft leaves little doubt about how high the building will actually appear to those visiting or living in the area. Here are a several photographic comparisons of what SAN has told citizens the visual impact of Park Place will be, and what we now know is actually being constructed. You can take a few moments to walk around Olde Town and see for yourself where the top of the elevator shaft is. Or, look at the photos here and judge for yourself how bad the coming “destruction” of Olde Town will actually be.

The deception -- St Anne's bell tower from Fuzzy's

The deception — St Anne’s bell tower viewed from Fuzzy’s

The truth -- the top of PPOT's elevatator is below the V mark

The truth — the top of PPOT’s elevator is below the V mark

The deception -- the view from Grandview's orthodontist

The deception — the view from Grandview in front of the orthodontist’s office

The truth -- the same Grandview office with the south PPOT elevator in the  background

The truth — the same Grandview office with the south PPOT elevator in the background

The deception -- view from the Mcilvoy House

The deception — PPOT view from the Mcllvoy House, the video’s reporter is not identified

The truth -- the actual view of the McIlvoy House with the top of the elevator shaft below the V

The truth — the actual view of the McIlvoy House with the top of the elevator shaft below the V


The deception -- PPOT seen from Saint Anne's school

The deception — PPOT looming over Saint Anne’s school

The truth -- the actual view of the elevator shaft viewed from St Anne's school front door

The truth — the actual view of the elevator shaft viewed from St Anne’s school front door

The deception -- view of Park Place from Grandview and Olde Wadsworth

The deception — view of Park Place from Grandview and Olde Wadsworth

I have no matching “truth” photo for this one.  Park Place will not be visible at all from this intersection.


after Leyden painter Frans van Mieris the Elder

Emptying a chamber pot — after Leyden painter Frans van Mieris the Elder

Park Place Olde Town often derisively called “pee pot” by the project’s detractors. Despite that unfortunate imagery, the 300 or so new semi-affluent residents living within easy walking distance should add quite a bit of vitality to Olde Town and the businesses that operate there. If, like me, you are saddened by Olde Town businesses closing down because they cannot attract enough customers to keep up their rents, you should find Park Place to be a welcome development.

And the people we elected to govern the City seem to think PPOT is a good fit for Olde Town as well. The construction of Park Place and its permit to build additional sidewalks on the adjacent parts of McIlvoy Park to handle the new foot traffic were unanimously approved by the Arvada City Council.

That’s not to say that our City government always supports Arvada’s historical heritage. The City of Arvada no longer allows chamber pots to be emptied onto its streets in morning.

Proposed Park Place common patio area

Proposed Park Place common patio area

And for those who can afford the rent, Park Place should be a nice place to live, both for young millennials and for more elderly residents who will have elevator access to all the floors. In addition to the nice view over the park and its easy walkability, the developer says that dogs and other pets will be allowed. Park Place will also have a patio café with internet access.

On the flip side, the café, and it’s wifi access, will not be available to the public, and the building will cast a winter-time shadow over the park in the early morning hours. I guess the rest of us can just look up at the residents from the park in envy while they are enjoying their coffee. “Hey mister! I’ll walk your dog for you if you will slip me your wifi access code.”

Okay, I’m kidding. The well off should be able to live in nice places without guilt. But my biggest gripe is real. And that is that PPOT will have no owner-occupied units. I don’t blame the developer. Because of Colorado’s existing construction-defect laws (and like the new Solana development starting south of Grandview later in the year) Park Place is going to be all rentals. The annual tenant turnover rate could run 60% or more. And, unlike Solana, the way the PPOT apartments are being constructed, they will not be easily convertible to owner-occupied condominiums later on. That’s not good. The Colorado Legislature is supposed to be working on the problem again this year, but anything they come up with will be too late for this project.

Park Place will not be Arvada’s tallest building. That honor goes to the ageing six-story Arvada House senior apartment complex overlooking the adjacent Lutheran church and Kmart on 58th Avenue. Actually, the Arvada House is a little taller than six stories because of its utility and elevator shaft housings. My own mother-in-law lived there in her declining years, and I have happy memories of that simple, but friendly and useful, apartment block.

The opinions expressed in this article are my own and not necessarily those of the members of the Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community. Opposing views are welcome on our website.

The Save Arvada Now video from which some of these stills were taken can still be found at this YouTube link. The narrator is not identified. If you are interested, have a look at it before it gets pulled.
The Denver Post has an article on the City’s final approval to build the new apartments at this link.

and the CLRC has a previous article about the start of construction on the site that can be found at this link

The Save Arvada Now website at has several articles on the development. But check first before you donate. The organization may no longer be using its donations to stop the 153 new apartments from being built. SAN also has a Facebook site with page after page of anti-PPOT postings. It also has lots of photos of the ongoing construction that are actually kind of neat.

The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community is an independent neighborhood association representing the neighborhoods adjacent to Ralston Road from Wadsworth Bypass to the Kipling Parkway.

The CLRC’s main website is at or you can read even more posts on our Facebook page at “CLRC – Citizens for a Liveable Ralston Community”. Here’s the CLRC’s contact information if you want to call or write:

6185 Field Street
Arvada, CO 80004

January 20, 2015

John Kiljan

John Kiljan

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Notes from the Net – AURA Board Meeting on January 7, 2015

by John Kiljan

Dear CLRC members and friends,

Here is our second “Notes from the Net” article. It captures some Facebook postings on the last AURA meeting. First a quick note: It is my understanding that AURA is NOT proposing an increase in the City’s hotel lodging tax, which currently stands at 2%.  That would require a ballot issue, and none is planned. However, the hotel management does plan to set up its own 6% guest surcharge to help fund the development. They will be calling it a public-improvement fee (PIF) as well. The City tax and the hotel’s own PIF will add up to 8% which is approximately equivalent to the normal hotel lodging taxes charged in the Denver metro area.

* * *

Notes by Nancy Young on the “Let’s Talk Arvada – Arvada for All the People” (LTA-AAP) Facebook page (reposted with permission)

“Hotel at former Brooklyns, Streetscape & traffic signal at Arvada Plaza/Arvada Square”

“5:30 pm. The meeting was called to order. All Commissioners were present – Jacobson, Bolin, Cline, Delaria, Parker, Piz Wilson, and Willaims. Three citizens were present, as were two individuals who later made presentations.

“During public comment, citizen John Kiljan asked if the AURA board knew anything about a sale of “the storage place” (presumably the mini-storage on the Wadsworth ByPass just south of Grandview). Apparently Mike Miles, Executive Director of APEX, had made a comment to that effect at a meeting the night before. No one on the AURA Board appeared to know anything about it.

“NOTE: Subsequently, this information was proven in error. The storage place has not been sold, nor do the owners appear to have any intention of selling.

"By all means, call the police." -- meeting public comment

“By all means, call the police.” — meeting public comment

“Another citizen, who did not state her name, noted that she had questions for the Commission. Chair Jacobson repeatedly asked her to state her name, to which she responded that when she arrived, everyone seemed to know her name. Chair Jacobson repeated that if she did not state her name, then her comments could not be heard. The Chair then moved on to the next item on the agenda.

“Hotel at the former Brooklyns, now the Vineyard Church

“The AURA Board approved a Development and Disposition Agreement with Renascent Partners to develop an hotel at this site. Groundbreaking is scheduled for mid-October 2015. The agreement calls for selling the land to the developer for $500,000, all of which will be used to reduce AURA’s loan from the City. The City of Arvada will raise the hotel tax from 8% to 10%, with the entire additional amount (2 percentage points), up to $800,000 through 2028, to be rebated to the developer. Groundbreaking is scheduled for October 2015.

“Notice to vacate will be given to the Vineyard Church on submission of the Preliminary Development Plan, estimated at late March or early April. It appears that the City intends to assist the Church in finding a new location within Arvada, preferably on the southeast side.

“Maureen Phair noted that she met with the City Council on Monday, January 5, 2015, and received their “Okay” on a proposal to lower the interest rate to 1.5% from 3.5% on the City’s $2,745,000 loan regarding this property. [NOTE: City loan was made in 2010; AURA initially acquired the property in 2007 for $2,800,000 and, in 2008, acquired an adjacent parcel for $542,800, for a total AURA investment in the property of $3,342,800.] Commissioner Williams quickly noted that this Council “Okay” was an informal approval. The proposal will need to be presented to the City Council for formal approval during a public meeting.

“Streetscape near proposed Walmart

“Pacland, represented by Mike Beach, will install a new streetscape on private property at three corners of the proposed Walmart development in the Arvada Square: Ralston & Garrison (at the KFC), Ralston & Independence (at US Bank) and Independence at W. 57th (the former Valero gas station). The streetscape design was created by Britina Group and approved by the AURA board.

“On the US Bank corner, relocation of street lights and other infrastructure will be needed. The corner will be “moved back”, allowing more room for a right turn from Independence onto Ralston. The sidewalk and related plantings will eliminate all of the parking spaces on the west side of US Bank. The Bank accepts this change and incorporated it into their plans to construct a drive-thru on their property.

“At the KFC corner, there are two alternatives. The ideal alternative would eliminate 4 parking spaces which is unlikely to be accepted by KFC. The less ideal, but more realistic alternative, would eliminate one parking space. The fire hydrant and other utilities will need to be moved back from the corner to enable widening the sidewalk and allow planting of trees. The Board spent considerable time discussing ways to make the nearby bus shelter and bench more attractive.

“At the Valero corner, the streetscape will only include the area from Ralston to W. 57th. W. 57th will be narrowed by 7 feet to allow construction of a 4-foot wide sidewalk and a bike lane along the Walmart side of the project.

“The cost of this streetscape totals about $560,000, including an estimated cost of obtaining the right of way of $43,300 and the cost of construction of about $516,00. This cost does not include any costs for Pacland as the consultant for the project. Construction costs include moving utilities. Ms. Phair noted that she is attempting to negotiate with the owners of these properties to obtain the right of way “for nothing”. The preference is for the City to own the property rather than to have an easement.

“Questions from Commissioners, summarized as follows.

“Commissioner Cline expressed an unwillingness to spend an estimated $90,000 on the Valero corner (57th & Indendependence) – about 280 feet. The ensuing discussion noted that parking for Santiagos will be behind the restaurant once the proposed Walmart is constructed, which will require a curb cut in the sidewalk on W. 57th. It appears that Santiagos has approached Valero to allow parking on their land.

“The schedule for bidding this project is expected to coincide with Walmart’s bidding proposal. It would be more efficient to construct the streetscape, including moving utilities, at the same time that the Walmart and its streetscape portion, are being constructed.

“Ms. Phair then presented to the Board with the issue of who will maintain the streetscape plantings, particularly the flower pots (only at the entrance to the proposed Walmart), irrigation for the trees, electricity for the signs, snow removal, and related ongoing expenses for the streetscape. While current property owners might be willing to provide these services, in some cases, the quality of service (like snow removal) might not be up to AURA standards. Commissioner Williams suggested that the City might be willing to share these costs through 2028, when this urban renewal district expires.

“The Board approved the next step, at an estimated cost of $92,000, to proceed with the Streetscape project.

“At this point, it was noted that the bike shop (formerly at 66th & Wadsworth) had moved to Wheat Ridge. Commissioner Jacobson, owner of Sportline, noted that his business is now clearing snow from the sidewalk up to this business (from about W. 64th Ave. to W. 66th Ave.).

“Traffic Light – Ralston & Holland

“Chris Derossa, City of Arvada traffic engineer, appeared in place of Ben Waldman, to discuss the traffic signal on the north side of Ralston at Holland. The issue here involves who will pay the estimated $125,000 to replace the traffic signals. While Walmart will replace the signals on the south side, it appears questionable who will accept this responsibility on the north side.

“Buckingham, who has been selected to develop the Arvada Square, seems unwilling to aborb this cost. According to Chris Derossa, the City’s budget does not have room for this traffic signal replacement.

“The issue remained unresolved, with Commissioner Williams noting that he will coordinate with the City regarding this proposal. It might be possible for the City and AURA to share the cost of this upgrade, which means that the street would be torn up only once for traffic signal replacement when the proposed Walmart project is constructed.

“Development update: report by Ms. Phair

“A summary list of AURA projects, known informally as the “Tony Cline” list (AURA Commissioner who requested it), was presented.

“Walmart: Autozone has received construction permits for its new structure where the US Bank drive-thru was formerly located. Once construction begins, estimated completion is 4 months.

“Once Autozone begins construction, IRG will commence its “abatement demolition”. This demolition will pave the way for Walmart to begin construction, supposedly during the summer.

“Arvada Square: Buckingham, the chosen developer for the Arvada Square, is negotiating “every little item”, according to Ms. Phair. As a result, the Development and Disposition Agreement (DDA) is taking longer than expected to complete.

“PPOT (Park Place Olde Town – 5-story rental apartments on McIlvoy Park): This project is now in a critical stage where they are pouring concrete. Soon, a second crane will be erected.

“TOD – Trammel Crow: Ms. Phair continues to negotiate with RTD regarding the move of the existing bus terminal to the north. This move would enable Trammel Crow to begin construction. Trammel Crow continues to wok on selecting a grocery store, supposedly to be constructed on the south side of W. 56th (after this street has been extended west across the Wadsworth ByPass).

“Solana Olde Town: Preliminary Development Plan scheduled for the Planning Commission on January 20th.

“Former McDonalds property (Ralston, north of W. 59th) – Stone Leaf Pottery: the developer is working on financing, which they hope to close by the end of February.

“Public comment session: the citizen who earlier had attempted to make a comment again attempted to do so. She noted that she feels intimidated by the Commissioners. Again, the Chair requested her name, and again she noted that everyone appeared to know her name because they greeted her by name when she arrived. She then proceeded to state that she had questions for the Commissioners. She gave each Commissioner a slip of paper, supposedly with these questions. She noted that the Chair of the Commission immediately put her questions in the trash bin.

“At this point, Commissioner Williams motioned that the meeting be adjourned. The meeting was adjourned at about 7:10 pm, prior to hearing Commissioner comments.”

[end of notes by Nancy Young]

* * *

[LTA-AAP Facebook comments]

Michelle Weiss McCallum: Who was this person they ignored

Dave Chandler: Am I understanding this correctly: AURA bought the parcels of land for $3,342,800 and it is going to be sold to the developer for $500,000?

And … AURA/council wants to raise the Arvada hotel tax from 8 to 10 percent and give the increase to the developer?

Nancy Young: Dave Chandler, the short answer to your questions – yes to both. AURA ended up with this property, and the associated $2.8 million loan when the borrower (presumably Brooklyns) defaulted on this loan guaranteed by AURA. Subsequently, AURA acquired the additional small parcel and the City lent them the $2.745 mm. As for the hotel tax, the “logic” is that since Arvada doesn’t have any hotels, and since Arvada’s hotel tax is well below the local average, nobody is really harmed. This hotel will collect the tax from its guests, send the tax to the City, then the City will turn over the “extra” 2% to AURA, who will then rebate it to the developer – up to a maximum of $800,000 over the life of the urban renewal district.

Nancy Young: Michelle Weiss McCallum, the citizen who was ignored has apparently been active in some citizen protests over the last several years. She appears to prefer to remain anonymous. Some people have wondered if the recently increased police protection for the mayor is due to concerns about this individual.

Marilou Griego: Sounds like it to me, too.

Nancy Young: Did anyone else notice: Ms. Phair apparently presented the interest rate reduction to Council, but not in a public forum? Was this presentation during the “executive session” before the January 5 public meeting? How does this matter fall within any exemption to the Open Meetings law? Is this another example of a “back room” deal, hidden from the public?

Dave Chandler: I noticed that also. Tax policy is public policy — there shouldn’t be any secret or ‘executive’ discussion amongst our elected representatives about tax rates. Is there not one council member who will speak up for the public and demand that this kind of clandestine discussion (if it really occurred) be halted?

Jim J. Narcy: oh lord. How long will this go on? I’ve got to make it down to city coun-sell meetings. What is the best strategy to get some common sense solutions to this cities opportunities and challenges?

Don Johnson: Wouldn’t that be “con-sell meetings”.

Brett Hall: Does Phair work on commission? The more of our money she gives away the more she gets in return? Free money, free money!

Nancy Young: Jim J. Narcy, many citizens have concluded that the only way to restore common sense to city government is through the ballot box. If elected officials refuse to respond to the citizens, then perhaps the citizens need to replace them.

Jayme Gaines: Nancy, where is the street side entrance to AURA?

* * *

[Citizens for a Better Arvada Facebook comments]

Susan Shirley: Thank you, Nancy! Lots to think about, there. I am sad about the bike shop going to Wheat Ridge, but glad to know what happened to them. Seems to be a lot of that going around.

Nancy Young: Yes there is a lot of “moving out” going around! Just learned yesterday that Grizzly Creek Framing is also moving to Wheat Ridge – the landlord wanted to nearly double the rent “because of the Gold Line”. They will join Ralston Ace Hardware (moved to Lakewood) and Mama Saninos (to Wheat Ridge). Then there are the treasured businesses that are gone forever – D-Note, Gunther Toodys, and Black Forest Deli. I wonder who will be next….

Susan Shirley: If that Walmart opens, it’ll be Kmart, then probably the Target on Kipling, then Walmart raises its prices at that store since it got the competition outta there…so then its numbers drop and the next thing you know, the Walmart’s gone too. Leaving a trail of busted merchants in its wake. But hey, it’s all in the name of progress, right?

* * *


For those interested in viewing a video of the last six minutes of the abruptly adjourned AURA meeting, try clicking on this link:

The Triangle redevelopment article referred to in the video can be found at

Comments and feedback welcome.

The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community is an independent neighborhood association representing the neighborhoods adjacent to Ralston Road from Wadsworth Bypass to the Kipling Parkway.

Our main website is at or you can read even more posts on our Facebook page at “CLRC – Citizens for a Liveable Ralston Community”.

6185 Field Street
Arvada, CO 80004


January 16, 2015

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Our Readers, Olde Town Hotels and the Vineyard Church – Notes from the Net

by John Kiljan

Dear CLRC members and friends,

First, we’re trying something a little new here. The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community (CLRC) has two internet websites: one is on our main website run by WordPress and the other is on our Facebook page at “CLRC – Citizens for a Liveable Ralston Community”.   I know, it is Facebook that wants to spell “Livable” like that and they won’t let us change it. But it’s hard to complain about a free service. The CLRC’s president, T.O. Owens, who is also busy with a day job and raising two kids, manages all of this for us, as well as our direct email messages. Thanks, T.O.!

The CLRC's Facebook page

The CLRC’s Facebook page

Our Facebook page has a lot more postings and comments than our WordPress site and it is much easier to post to — and it has over 800 subscribers, not that most of them probably don’t look at what shows up on their screens. I use our Facebook outlet for spur-of-the-moment postings. But Facebook also has lousy formatting, terrible archiving, and, although anyone can post an article to our page, most articles and comments by readers tend to disappear into a balloon icon or a sidebar as soon as they are posted – hardly something that encourages useful feedback. Did I really say it’s hard to complain about a free service?

Meanwhile, the website on WordPress we pay for has great formatting and excellent archiving for those who want to be able find out what’s been happening in central Arvada over the years. And it has about 70 subscribers who get direct emails of our postings. Plus, we have another 100 or so who get direct emails through iContact, another direct emailing service. (We also keep another iContact list of about the same size to inform those who have signed up just to hear information about community recreation issues and a replacement for the former Fisher Pool in Ralston Central Park.)

All told, we think we usually get about 200 individual readers for each article we post on — not everyone opens all their emails. However, if there is a hot topic being discussed (eg, Walmart, the pool, election profiles), we can get over a thousand readers for articles – not bad for a small local neighborhood association with about 7000 household and that can only get about 20 people to show up for an annual meeting.

To avoid email clutter to our subscription readers, we only post what we think are the most important articles on and put the briefer “meeting tonight” types of articles on Facebook where they scroll off the screen into some kind of digital oblivion in a week or two.

But that leaves out the readers who don’t want to sign up for Facebook and who might also benefit from some of the more significant Facebook postings as well. And they might benefit from repostings from other Facebook sites (both pro- and anti-City) that cover issues important to central Arvada. Hence, the first “Notes from the Net” series of articles you are reading now. It is intended to be a reposting of the most useful Facebook postings before they fall into that great electronic wastebasket somewhere in the internet. Readers should expect only the minimal editing needed for articles or their comments for them to make sense.

Feedback is welcome. If this doesn’t work out because our readers don’t like the increased email clutter, or are (like me) confused by Facebook’s informal posting culture, or it is too much trouble to put together, we can simply go back to doing what we have been doing all along.

Now, where were we? Oh yes, hotels and a church! Here is the first “Notes from the Net”. It comes from our CLRC Facebook page and was not originally covered on our website.

* * *

Notes from the Net – Olde Town Hotels and the Vineyard Church

January 5, 2015 at 5:03pm ·

A Hilton Garden Inn in Virginia

A Hilton Garden Inn in Virginia

New Hotel for Olde Town? On AURA’s agenda for its Wednesday night [Jan 7, 2015] board meeting is a request to build a four-story Hilton Garden Inn hotel at the current site of the Vineyard church on Olde Wadsworth just south of Olde Town. Currently, central Arvada has no hotel facilities and is being served by hotels in Wheat Ridge and Westminster. You can read about the proposal in the AURA board meeting packet at this link:,_2015-1-201501061135.pdf

–John Kiljan

Update: An Olde Town hotel is looking more likely after the AURA Board of Commissioners voted to approve the hotel proposal late Wednesday afternoon. The recent changes to the agreement were to give the Vineyard church their six-month notice at little later — only after the hotel’s preliminary development plan (PDP) has been received by the City. That could happen in early April. Also, the City and AEDA (a City-run economic development organization and support service) will be offering to help the Vineyard find a new location.

What could go wrong? AURA could be left without a church to service their debt on the property (about $8000/month) at the same time it is without a hotel, if the developer’s financing the falls through or there is a construction problem. But, so far, everything seems to be in place. The developer is doing business as Arvada Hotel Investors, LLC (Scott Summerville as principal).

The estimated completion date for the hotel is sometime in 2017. It is expected to have 136 rooms and a food, beverage and meeting space big enough for wedding receptions and small conventions. AURA’s contribution to the project is a discounted land sale and a very small lodging tax rebate. Arvada only charges a 2% lodging tax. The typical rate for other metro-area cities is about 8%.

I have been asked why build a hotel here and not at the Nine-Acre Site just west of Vance Street in Olde Town as was proposed by Trammell Crow last year. It’s a good question. From what I’ve heard, the idea is still there, but it seems to be a more iffy proposition because of the timing and location. Olde Town needs a hotel, but it also needs transit parking during the construction of the station and the Nine-Acre Site east of Vance will not be available for construction until after the Gold Line’s opening day.

The Trammell Crow plan was to have the hotel sit above the level of Grandview, and that could slow down acceptance of the design plans as well. A much-needed pedestrian rail overpass in Olde Town was scotched by RTD because of the delays an environmental design review would have involved.

Also, the developer for the Nine-Acre Site may not be able to find anyone willing to put in a hotel when the site is ready. The developer of the Hilton Garden Inn on Olde Wads says he has financing lined up now, but that might fall through in less than a year. That’s why he is anxious to break ground this year, otherwise it might not get built at all. Lack of available financing has killed several previous attempts to build a hotel where the Vineyard is located now.

Meanwhile, TC may not be able to get financing for a hotel at all, and they seem to prefer starting out with retail on the NAS and use that income to fund the follow-on housing projects. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another hotel break ground on the NAS sometime in 2016 if the economy holds up.

* * *

–John Kiljan, for the CLRC

11 January 2015


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Special Apex/City Joint Work Session January 6th

Apex Board of Directors 2014

Apex Board of Directors 2014

[updated January 7, 2015]

This semi-informal meeting next Tuesday could spark an interesting discussion between our City government and Arvada’s special recreation district. The Apex Park and Recreation District wants to issue between $25 million and $35 million in new bonds for recreational facilities in Arvada. If it does that now, it can legitimately claim that it will not be increasing taxes since the mill levy it is using to pay off its outstanding development bonds will be redirected to paying off its new ones over the next 20 years or so.

[Update:  This was indeed an interesting discussion. If I get time, I’ll try to write up more about what is going to happen in another article. –John]

Apex is a separate governmental entity from the City of Arvada and is supported through a combination of property taxes, membership fees and fees for its many team sports activities which attract region-wide participation.

The contentious issue could be local recreation in the underserved parts of southeast Arvada. Apex has said that the public demands that any new facilities it builds should pay for its own operating expenses. But others have disagreed saying that is not a reasonable position for any tax-supported public agency to hold, whether it be for parks, police services, courts, road maintenance or recreation.

Apex’s position has meant that Apex has favored building large central recreation centers such as the one on 72nd Avenue and field houses off of 58th Avenue and Oak Street over the years. It has also meant that Apex does not support a replacement pool for the one they previously owned, managed and maintained at Ralston Central Park (the Fisher Pool) on Ralston Road, nor has it proposed any recreational facilities easily accessible to the Columbine or Olde Town neighborhoods.

Apex was created in the late 1950s to build the Fisher Pool at Ralston Road and Garrison Street, and the adjacent ice skating rink and gym. Both facilities have since been pulled down.

In other metro-area cities, such as Wheat Ridge, recreation is usually a function of city governments rather than a separate recreation district. Local recreational facilities are more evenly distributed throughout cities such as Aurora and Denver which support smaller neighborhood pools and recreation centers, whether they can pay for their own operating expenses or not.

The Arvada City Council recently turned down a request to turn roughly half of the campus of the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities at 68th and Wadsworth Boulevard into a four-level $18 to $25 million aquatics and recreation facility in the style of the existing one on 72nd Avenue. The Council said it would want a lot more community input before it repurposed the land the City has set aside for arts and humanities, and that input could take a year or more to gather.

Also on Apex’s plate is a replacement for the Meyers Pool at 7900 Carr Drive. The City owns the facility, but Apex operates it and has been responsible for its long-term maintenance, and the building that houses the pool has fallen into disrepair. The temporary repairs done at Meyers are only expected to last another ten years at best.

This meeting should not be a discussion of what to actually include in the bond renewal proposal, but rather the process that Apex is planning to go through to get public input for a bond renewal. But the discussion will also be Apex’s first opportunity to hear from the City Council at large as to what its hopes for community recreation in the City are.

The meeting is open to the public, but no opportunity for public comment is expected to be on the agenda. Still, if you are interested in Arvada’s recreational needs, you should come and sit in on the discussion. Here is the official meeting notice from Apex:


–John Kiljan for the CLRC

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Changes Coming to the Triangle

by John Kiljan

Dear CLRC members and friends,

It’s the end of the year and time for an update on what’s going to happen in the Arvada Triangle shopping centers — now officially rebranded and known as “Ralston Creek”. And, unless something goes very wrong, a lot is about to happen in the shopping centers near Independence and Ralston Road. As Mayor Marc Williams put it at a park dedication ceremony early last summer, “The redevelopment that is going to happen in Ralston Creek is going to be amazing. You are going to see some incredible things happening in that area in the next few years.”

From sitting through a lot of public meetings, poking around, and asking a few questions, I’ve come up with a summary of what I think is likely to happen in the coming year or two to the shopping centers that run all the way from the Kipling Parkway to Field Street along Ralston Road. If any other reader has information on what they think will be happening here, feel free to add it to this article using the comment box at the bottom of the article.

There are a lot of photos in this article. You should be able to enlarge any you are interested in by simply clicking on the photo.


The “Triangle”


Most of the few remaining businesses in the Arvada Plaza part of this shopping center (located south of Ralston Road) have been given notices to vacate their store fronts by February of 2015 in preparation for new construction.

That may seem a little early, since it was only last May that Walmart announced it was pushing back the start of construction for its new Supercenter in the Plaza by one year. Currently, Walmart itself doesn’t plan to start construction on its new downsized Supercenter until sometime in the second half of 2015, with an opening day expected some 12 months later. The developer blamed the delay on needed environmental cleanup and the need to accommodate AutoZone’s relocation to a new site.


AutoZone and H&R Block

But construction on some parts of the site could start as soon as the first quarter of 2015 — possibly as early as this January. And that’s because of AutoZone. AutoZone is one of the developer’s few tenants that has a long-term lease in the Plaza. Also, AutoZone is doing well and wants to stay on after the new Walmart opens up. And the Arvada Plaza brownfields developer, IRG, is happy to have them stay.   AutoZone does a good business and has been referred to as the ‘rose among the thorns’ in this rundown commercial area.

To keep AutoZone without closing down the existing store or holding up the construction of the new Walmart, a new AutoZone store has to be built on the site first. That construction is scheduled to start in the first half of 2015. The new store will be located just west of the existing KFC/Taco Bell and in front of the current store. It should be the first construction work we actually see going on in Arvada Plaza. When the new AutoZone is complete, the stock from the old outlet will be moved to the new one allowing the old building to be demolished to make room for the construction of the new Walmart later in the year.


Abandoned drive through to be removed from US Bank

Who else is staying in the Plaza besides AutoZone? H&R Block, the tax preparer, is supposed to be given an extension to get them through the April tax preparation season. And US Bank located at the southeast corner of Independence and Ralston Road is staying as well. They own the building on the corner, but the current drive throughs are on land leased from IRG. US Bank will have to close those drive-throughs, but they will be given a lease extension to allow them to first shoe-horn in three new drive-throughs on the parking lot next to their main building on the corner. The City Council has recently approved that new use for the site.

Current US Bank drive through facility to be taken out

Current US Bank drive through facility to be taken out

Originally, US Bank had planned to move into the same building as the new AutoZone and sell off their current bank location, but that idea fell through, and the bank now intends to stay in its existing corner location.


Parking at Santiago’s

Also staying in the Plaza are the Santiago’s Mexican restaurant (Yay!) and the KFC/Taco Bell restaurant. Those properties are not owned by IRG and are (so far) unaffected by the new development. Also unaffected are the businesses just east of the KFC and the community gardens and residence and small orchard on the hill above the site. Where Santiago’s patrons will be able to park is a bit of a mystery. They don’t own the land in front of the restaurant and Walmart plans to use it as a truck route to supply the store.

The remaining businesses, such as Subway, the car wash, Pudge Brothers, Gomez’s are soon to close down or have already done so. It would be nice to give them a little extra business before they go. If their sales hold up, perhaps some of them will decide to reopen across the street when the opportunity comes in two years’ time.

Unfortunately, the leveled Diamond/Shamrock filling station site on 57th is not planned for redevelopment, and it will stay the concrete-and-weed eyesore it is now. The owners don’t even have a “For Sale” sign up on it.


57th Avenue from Balsam to Independence, bike/ped improvement site


But there’s more happening in that part of the Triangle, and that has to do with bike lanes. Arvada recently snagged a substantial federal grant to improve the bike lanes and sidewalks on 57th Avenue from Independence all the way to Balsam Street. No design details are available yet, and discussions with property owners who may have to give up a little of their lot frontage for the improvements are not planned until well into next year. Federal-aid projects, such as this and the recently completed Safe-Routes-to-School bike/ped path down the Garrison Street alignment, often endure months of delay before getting their final design approvals.

But the bottom line is that there will be over a half million dollars of bike/ped improvements put in for this part of 57th Avenue. The CLRC will have more on what will happen to 57th Avenue once we can get some initial concept plans from the City.

Site of possible new Independence northbound bike lane

Site of possible new Independence northbound bike lane

In addition to 57th Avenue, the City and AURA are in negotiations with US Bank to donate four feet of its property along Independence Street for an on-street northbound bike lane. The lane will connect to the improvements on 57th Avenue and on up that steep hill to Ridge Road for the new Arvada Ridge commuter rail station scheduled to be opened in 2016. AURA is also negotiating with US Bank to rebuild the southeast corner of Ralston Road and Independence to become the first part of its new “streetscaping” plan that will run from the Kipling Parkway all the way to Garrison Street along both sides of 58th Avenue. US Bank plans to take out its drive-through on the west side of the building in any event and to landscape the ground that is now pavement on that side of the building.

If you didn’t already know, AURA (the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority) is a 27-year-old independent quasi-governmental organization set up the by the City of Arvada to use tax rebates and other incentives to redevelop blighted urban areas within the City of Arvada. The Triangle is one of those blighted areas and has been for many years.

AURA has a huge say on how the most run down parts of Arvada will develop in the future. In a nutshell, AURA, under State law, is allowed to keep the new property and sales taxes it generates over a set number of years as long as it uses those monies for development incentives in blighted areas. After that, the new taxes AURA has generated go to the County, the City, the State and the special districts (fire, schools, Apex, etc) in the urban renewal area.

That’s not chicken feed. AURA’s past developments at 52nd and Wadsworth now bring in millions of dollars of new tax revenue for the County, City and the State. I’ve heard that for the City alone, the increased sales-tax revenue is about $10 million a year.

AURA’s past accomplishments include the redevelopment of just about everything along Wadsworth Boulevard from I-70 to, and including, Olde Town. It also includes the shopping center that now hosts the Target store on Kipling Street and the housing developments that go with the new Arvada Ridge housing developments at the new commuter rail station.

Ralston Road should look pretty spiffy when AURA is finished with it. In addition to the streetscaping that Walmart is being required to put in, AURA has a goal of spending up to $5 million on new landscaping, walkways, signage and the like along this road. You can learn more about AURA and see the concept plans for what Ralston Road will look like by going to the AURA websites referenced below.

Five million seems like a lot, but AURA points to its public improvements in Olde Town that sparked Olde Town’s modern renaissance as a place that attracts a growing business base and its many day-and-night visitors as proof that these kinds of investments give back to the community a lot more than they cost the authority.

After a stockholders’ meeting earlier this year in which Walmart executives announced the company was cutting back its new store openings across the country in 2015 in response to slower sales growth, there were fears that their Arvada Plaza development would be delayed yet again — or abandoned altogether. Under its agreement with the City and the developer, Walmart has to open its new Triangle outlet by September of 2018 or the primary developer, IRG, will lose its up-to-$5.6-million-over-12-years tax rebate incentive. IRG and Walmart could still fit in another two-year delay into the project if they wanted to.

This is indeed something to be concerned about. Although most living in the area (this writer included) would have preferred a more upscale retailer being the Triangle’s new anchor store, Walmart pulling out would not be a good thing for the neighborhoods near the Triangle. It doesn’t look like there are any other retailers who would be willing to step in and develop the site if they did that. And if Walmart left, the site could be fenced off and left sitting empty for many years to come, adding to the area’s urban blight.

AURA and the City have tried for a decade to get a big box retailer, or large grocery store, to locate in the Plaza as its new anchor. Low traffic counts and so-so demographics have not made the site very attractive to retailers. For years Safeway talked about building a newer and higher grade store there, but despite the promise of tax incentives, it gave up on the area altogether and closed down its outlet across the street — leaving King Soopers as the Triangle’s only remaining grocer.

Despite a lot of asking by AURA, no other big-box retailer seems to have given the Arvada Plaza site a second look. In the meantime, the number of remaining businesses has continued to decline – as have the tax receipts going to the County, to the State, to the schools, to the fire department, and to our recreation district.

However, news reports also say that Walmart’s new CEO, Doug McMillon, has been trying redirect the giant retailer toward smaller and more community-based stores that can also serve as pick-up sites for online sales in competition with Amazon. The planned Arvada Plaza Walmart Supercenter is expected to be the second smallest Supercenter in Colorado when it is built. And its size seems to fit in well with the company’s new strategic direction.

Moreover, Walmart leaving the Arvada Plaza is not very likely, says AURA Executive Director, Maureen Phair. Walmart has continued getting approvals for its final development plans and the company plans to break ground in 2015 as scheduled. The one-year delay it has announced so far is for hazmat cleanup and getting the AutoZone relocation issue resolved.   And the construction of AutoZone’s new building is probably contractually tied to Walmart going ahead with its own plans, since it would not make sense without a Walmart commitment to build.

If construction doesn’t start on the new AutoZone in the first half of 2015, then that would be a good time to start worrying.

Trash and weeds on the old Diamond Shamrock site later cleaned up at the urging of AURA

Trash and weeds on the old Diamond Shamrock site later cleaned up at the urging of AURA

What’s Arvada Plaza going to look like while all this is going on? In short, and as with just about any other construction site, it will be a mess. And the problems that go with a mostly abandoned shopping center have already started. Homeless people have been hanging out there during the summer, and that may continue into the winter. Dumped trash has built up in some places and weeds have grown up in others. IRG is not responsible for cleanup on property they don’t own, nor is AURA. But AURA has taken the initiative to get dumped trash and weeds cleaned up on some properties such as the old filling station (which neither they nor IRG own), and they have fenced the back side of the old Safeway building to stop trash being dumped there.

Once the last of the tenants are gone from the Plaza, this writer would be just as happy to see the whole IRG part of the property fenced off and hung with “Coming Soon!” signs. The developer, IRG, has kept the Plaza with its few remaining businesses running for eight years now, but they have also told the City Council that they have lost money for every year they have done that.

If things seem well planned for the south side of Ralston Road, the potential for the north side of the road (aka Ralston Creek North) is as mysterious (and as scary) as blind date. This area currently includes quite an eclectic mixture of businesses: the thriving Chuck E Cheese video game/pizza party place, a few vacant store fronts, a clock repair shop, a barber shop, a dog groomer, a charter school, a cell phone store, a couple of liquor stores, a dollar store, two check cashing services, a couple of family restaurants, a filling station, Arvada’s only 24-hour emergency medical facility and an auto repair business are included in the mix — as well as a few small businesses that I have no clue as to what they do.

Except for the newly remodeled and state-of-the-art First Choice emergency room, everything in Arvada Square looks pretty dated — if not downright seedy. And earlier this year legislation was introduced to that would have closed down the new emergency room. The bill died in the Senate but may be reintroduced next year when the legislature reconvenes.

This part of the Triangle is still called Arvada Square on the storefront sign, but is now referred to as Ralston Creek North by the City and by AURA. It used to have a lot more going for it. Safeway let their store there go to seed for years and then closed it altogether, after saying they wanted to build an even better store across the street. That didn’t happen, of course.

Former Big O tire and service center

Former Big O tire and service center

Big O, the tire and car maintenance facility on the corner across from the bank, asked AURA to end their long-term lease early so it could relocate to 52nd and Wadsworth where there is more traffic and out of the way of Triangle redevelopment uncertainties. AURA agreed to an early lease termination, but Big O may still be liable for some cleanup of hazardous waste left on the site.

The German delicatessen next to that building decided to close down even though AURA offered to continue their lease for half the previous rate. They simply weren’t interested in staying. The small liquor store next to that is staying put until they get an offer to move somewhere else. AURA owns all these properties.

AURA recently completed a lengthy (and competitive) process to select an exclusive commercial developer for Ralston Creek North. That’s the part of the Triangle on the north side of Ralston Road from the Walmart site. The Buckingham group is being offered the chance to be AURA’s sole developer for Ralston Creek North, and negotiations to do that are going on now. The Indiana and Denver-based group of companies that we now know as Buckingham will probably rename itself to something more community friendly after negotiations with AURA are complete. Those negotiations are expected to be completed early next year – possibly as soon as the end of January. The Buckingham group is expected to be spending tens of millions of dollars for new construction in Arvada Square over the next several years.

But the negotiations with Buckingham have, so far, been described as difficult, and they could fail altogether. Unlike other AURA developments, there is no tax-increment-financing (TIFs) available to Buckingham for Ralston Creek North. Nor, are there any public-improvement-fees-(PIFs)-in-lieu-of-sales-taxes of the kind offered to IRG for the Walmart development across the street.

Except for its public investments, such as streetscaping and the properties it owns in Ralston Creek North and the option AURA has to buy the Chuck E Cheese strip mall, AURA does not have much to offer the developer except for the promise of increased retail traffic from the new Walmart across the street when it opens in 2016. And neither AURA nor the City of Arvada is willing to use its powers of eminent domain to forcibly take any properties in Ralston Creek.

Buckingham's phasing plan for Ralston Creek North

Buckingham’s phasing plan for Ralston Creek North. The white building is the First Choice ER facility.

One of the assets AURA does have to offer Buckingham is the old Safeway building. It was bought for about half of its expected worth using money borrowed from the City of Arvada. Despite its leaky roof, 24-Hour Fitness is said to be interested in converting the old building into a commercial fitness center next year and is willing to spend several million in improvements to do just that.

24-Hour Fitness has a center up on Sheridan you can visit now to see what a Ralston Creek North one would be like. Although they have swimming pools, it is set up for doing laps and they are basically an adult-only facility, so, even if you can afford a membership, don’t plan to take your kids there for swimming lessons if they do decide to do the Safeway conversion.

Buckingham also hopes to fill Arvada Square with a lot of apartments – about 350 of them – and to put some of them atop ground-level businesses right on Ralston Road. There are no plans for owner-occupied housing. Why? Colorado’s current construction defect laws make it nearly impossible to finance the construction of new owner-occupied condominiums. In theory some owner-occupied townhomes could be built, but, so far, none are being proposed by Buckingham.

Development schedule proposed by Buckingham for Ralston Creek North

Development schedule proposed by Buckingham for Ralston Creek North

Negotiations with Buckingham are not expected to be complete till the end of January at the earliest.

Only then will Buckingham start to negotiate with 24-Hour Fitness about their moving into Ralston Creek North. And that’s when Buckingham will also start to talk to the current Arvada Square tenants about staying on in a redeveloped Ralston Creek North.

Triangle Liquors and former site of the German Deli

Triangle Liquors and former site of the German Deli

What’s first on Buckingham’s agenda? Phase One looks like it will be mostly new retail on the land that housed Big O, the German Deli, and now houses Triangle Liquors, the check cashing building and the catering service. That could happen as soon as late 2015 because AURA owns that land outright and can turn it over to the new developer without delay. But more likely it will be sometime into 2016 before new construction starts there. Also included in Phase One will be what happens to the Safeway building. That decision could take a little longer because of the negotiations needed with 24-Hour Fitness. Repurposing the old Safeway building may not make as much financial sense as simply pulling down the old building and putting up a new structure altogether.

The Chuck E Cheese part of the Ralston Creek North strip mall

The Chuck E Cheese part of the Ralston Creek North strip mall

Next on the agenda will be the strip mall that is home to Chuck E Cheese. AURA has an option to buy those properties sometime in 2016, and that will be part of its offering to Buckingham. Conceivably, that strip mall could be pulled down in late 2016, but I would expect to see that happening the following year. Where will Chuck E Cheese and the other shops go? We won’t know the answer to that question until well after Buckingham has talked with the current tenants about their options to stay. And Buckingham can’t do that till they have completed their negotiations with AURA.

The alley that now faces Ralston Creek and the residences along Brooks Drive

The alley that now faces Ralston Creek and the residences along Brooks Drive


To me, the concept plans that Buckingham has put forward sound pretty iffy at best. But whatever comes out of the final development plans Buckingham puts together, it should look a lot better than that butt-ugly alley we now have facing Ralston Creek (and the residents along Brooks Drive) with the garbage and delivery trucks backing in there just about every day of the week in the early morning hours.

The Ralston Cafe and adjacent tire shop are not included in AURA's offering to Buckingham

The Ralston Cafe and adjacent tire shop are not included in AURA’s redevelopment offer to Buckingham

In addition to such amenities as a creekside beer garden, Buckingham plans to have its apartments looking out over a new scenic view of Ralston Creek to the north as a way to attract tenants. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make offers to buy the properties held by the Ralston Café, the adjacent auto repair shop, and the filling station/auto service station on the corner of Garrison and Ralston Road.

The other part of the Triangle west of Independence is home to Kmart, King Soopers, the Lutheran church, the ARC thrift shop and the Goodyear tire shop. There is a lot of speculation on what might happen to this area, but for now AURA seems to be willing to let the market decide its future and is offering no development incentives apart from its planned streetscaping.

But there is a lot of potential for change in this area as well. Activities at the Lutheran church seem to have dropped off over the years and they may not need all the space they have. With over a million visitors a year going to regional sports events in the adjacent Lutz/Stenger fields, the church site has a lot of potential as a hotel. The nearest motels are in nearby Wheat Ridge.

The Triangle's Kmart with the six-story Arvada House senior living apartments in the background

The Triangle’s Kmart with the six-story Arvada House senior living apartments in the background

Kmart is having its problems as well. You may not have noticed it, Kmart merged with Sears a decade ago. Although our local outlet seems to be doing well, Sears Holdings, Kmart’s owner, is not. The company has begun a series of Kmart closures and cost cutting measures at its stores across the country. Sears Holdings is now majority owned by a hedge fund company that seems loathe to reinvest in its stores and has a reputation for penny-pinching cost cutting. Both Sears and Kmart continue to suffer some serious losses in annual earnings and much of the company’s real value seems to lie in the real estate it owns or has the rights to. The store that Sam Walton was once so envious of has fallen far, and the worry with Kmart is that the bad could easily pull down the good.

In the meantime, King Soopers has seen a jump in business with Safeway abandoning its Triangle location. But even King Soopers will have to get its act together when the Walmart Supercenter inserts competition into the local grocery business. And it will have to compete with a new [Sprouts] and a Natural Grocers in nearby Wheat Ridge. KS has been looking more than a little shop-worn lately and could definitely use an upgrade – and probably an expansion of floor space as well.

Pedestrians running across 58th Avenue across from McDonald's during  a break in traffic

Pedestrians running across 58th Avenue across from McDonald’s during a break in traffic

One change that will definitely come to this part of the Triangle is a new (and much needed) signal crossing in front of King Soopers. If you want to see something scary, sit out in front of McDonalds during a late Friday afternoon rush hour and watch mothers loaded with kids and groceries trying to cross 58th Avenue to get to the bus stop on the other side of the road. At one time AURA was considering a traffic roundabout at this location to calm down the traffic flow, but this new signal should work better, and it should eliminate the problem with cars trying to turn left onto 58th Avenue when leaving the shopping center.

The bases for the new traffic poles have already been drilled, poured with concrete and set with anchor bolts. The new signal poles are fabricated to order, so they come last. They are expected to be delivered and installed sometime in January. Until then, be careful when leaving the parking lot.

There is a small, seldom-mentioned area just north of the Triangle that is included in AURA’s urban renewal area. It’s in what is sometimes called the “ear of the dog” because of its terrier-ear shape and how it looks on Ralston Creek’s urban renewal map. The site used to have an abandoned McDonalds’ restaurant that has long since been pulled down. For years AURA has literally been trying to give away the land it owns there to anyone who could improve the area, but the in-and-out access to the site is too limited for most commercial activities.

Still, if some additional financing can be found, a small Arvada-based ceramics factory and workshop, called Stone Leaf Pottery, wants to locate there. The site might also have four small apartments built into it so that artists can come and live there while they are trained in pottery techniques. It may not be the beginnings of mini cultural corridor for this part of Arvada, but it would be a nice addition to the area in 2015 if the project goes through. If you are interested in artistic ceramics, do have a look at the company’s website referenced below.

These are questions many are asking. As a writer for this neighborhood association, I get asked about the pool several dozen times a year. So far, I don’t have an answer, and I don’t think anyone else does either. Buckingham has offered to open up its own apartment pool in Ralston Creek Northto the public when it is built if they can use the $3.1 million a sympathetic Arvada City Council has already set aside to support a community recreation center in the area. To keep its size manageable, Buckingham also wants to restrict access to its pool to nearby residents only.

Buckingham's community pool proposal

Buckingham’s community pool proposal


But the idea of using any public funding to build a pool that not every citizen of Arvada would be able to use would probably not sit well with AURA or the Arvada City Council, so that proposal is unlikely to be accepted. A half a dozen other sites near Ralston Central Park have been discussed as locations for a pool and rec center, but each one has its own issues and problems.

Still, the need for local recreation and a replacement for the razed Fisher Pool that used to be located in Ralston Central Park has been a top priority for Ralston Road neighborhoods for the last eight years, and the issue is not likely to go away. In the summer of 2013, the CLRC took an informal survey of what the neighborhoods’ top recreational needs were. You can read the results of that survey by going to the link below. Both an indoor and an outdoor pool topped the list of community recreation needs identified by the survey.

No it is not. As long-time Council member Don Allard (who has been around a lot longer than AURA has) is fond of pointing out, these development plans never turn out as first presented, and are always likely to change several times before something actually gets built. That’s not all bad. There is a lot of give-and-take when it comes to using private investments build public infrastructure such as shopping centers and new housing. Both developers and the City and AURA can be tough negotiators when they are putting together development partnerships.

And as for when, AURA seems to have so many development issues on its plate that even its board members are having trouble keeping them all straight. AURA is planning to put together a listing of “what’s supposed to be happening when” for its Board of Commissioners. That list is supposed to be available to the public as well. Look for that as an update to this article (at when it becomes available, probably sometime in January.

For articles on Sears and Kmart, try these links:


For the artisan pottery shop go to this link:

For the delay in building the new Walmart go to this link:

To learn more about AURA in the Triangle go to this link:

Here’s the official City of Arvada link for the latest development news on Ralston Creek:

For the Ralston Road streetscaping plans, try this link:

To see what a 24-Hour Fitness Center looks like, here’s a link for that:

To find out what local residents want to see for recreation in the areas once served by the Fisher Pool in Ralston Central Park, have a look at these two documents linked on the City’s website:

The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community is an independent neighborhood association representing the neighborhoods adjacent to Ralston Road from Wadsworth Bypass to the Kipling Parkway.

Our main website is at or you can read even more posts on our Facebook page at “CLRC – Citizens for a Liveable Ralston Community”.

6185 Field Street
Arvada, CO 80004


December 30, 2014

John Kiljan

John Kiljan for the CLRC

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Council Workshop on Reno Park and a Wadsworth Cultural Corridor

by John Kiljan
[updated December 9, 2014]

Dear CLRC members and friends,

Monday night’s workshop should be more interesting than most. Although not a formal business meeting, the Council will be considering a rezoning plan that will prevent future scrape-off projects in the Reno Park historic district just west of Olde Town. Scrape-offs typically occur when an investor buys one or two older homes to pull them down and replace them with multi-story, multi-family apartments. Arvada’s zoning laws currently allow this to happen in Reno Park. Some years ago the Stockey-Walter historic district east of Olde Town was rezoned to prevent scrape-offs and now the residents of Reno Park are asking to do the same.

City of Arvada, City Council Packet, December 8, 2014_5Some public testimony is expected to be allowed. You can read more about Arvada’s historic housing districts and what is at stake in this recently completed consultant survey at

– Update on Reno Park: In a correction to the above article, Reno Part resident Kelly Eargle wrote, “We are not able to prevent scrape offs with this rezoning, nor is Stocke-Walter. They rezoned into a PUD, changing some of their building requirements. We are asking to rezone from multi-family zoning (RM) to a single-family zoning (RSL) to prevent condos, apartments, and convenience stores, all of which are allowed under the current zoning.”

At Monday night’s meeting the Council seemed sympathetic to the goals of the Reno Park Historical District petitioners. Many spoke in support of the proposal, but one non-resident spoke against it saying that one day they hoped to be able to scrape the Reno Park lots that they own and put in multi-family housing. They said that they bought their property knowing that the current zoning would allow that if they had the opportunity and met all other current City requirements for multi-family housing.

The Council asked City Staff to draft up a rezoning proposal for a formal review by the Planning Commission and then the Council. If the rezoning were approved, the City would then look at the expense of setting up design guidelines for the neighborhood.

Mayor Williams cautioned the petitioners that the zoning request would be handled impartially and that none of the Council members would take a position on the rezoning before full public hearings. He also said that he would have to be convinced the the neighbors really wanted this change and fully understood the implications of what the rezoning would mean.

There is an audio-only recording of the meeting available if anyone is interested.

City of Arvada, City Council Packet, December 8, 2014_19The cultural corridor is a dream long-held by Arvada’s City Councils. At the same workshop a consultant will be making a presentation of the feasibility setting up of a section of Wadsworth Boulevard from at least the Arvada Center to Olde Town.

You should be able to click on these images to enlarge them.

– Update on the Wadsworth Cultural Corridor: Most of this part of this evening’s workshop was Artspace consultant Roy Close speaking to Artspace’s 24-page evaluation of the feasibility of a cultural corridor for the Wadsworth Boulevard. That report should be available online for the rest of the week at this link.

Mr Close said there was no real definition of a cultural corridor, but gave several examples of cultural corridors in other cities and what did and didn’t work well about them. All them concentrated on attracting talent to create thriving arts community, and he said it was very important for young artists to actually live in the city they work in. 

He advised against trying to include the Bypass in the corridor because of the traffic load. He said that Olde Wadsworth also had a number of drawbacks in the middle area between Olde Town and the Arvada Center. He suggested instead that the City concentrate on the areas at each end of Olde Wadsworth. 

He said that the northwest corner of 68th and Wadsworth especially had a lot of potential to the City in encouraging a community of artists. He suggested that the City take a lot of care in developing a long-term plan for this part of the Arvada Center campus. Also on his list of potential sites were the areas just adjacent to the north part of Olde Town across from Ralston Road. 

A surprising recommendation was to look at the light industrial area across from Marshal and Lamar Streets where young artists are already setting up studioss. He suggested they were seeking out this area because they were being pushed out of other artist colonies in the metro area because of neighborhood gentrification and rising prices for available work space. 

In the end he strongly suggested that Arvada establish a cultural commission whose first task should be to better define the communities needs and opportunities and to seek certification of Olde Town as a Colorado Creative District. The Council agree to start taking those first two steps. And City Manager Mark Deven said he planned to come back to the Council to do just that as a way of meeting the performance goals the Council has already set for him . That work will also include giving the Council and idea of what City resources would need to be invested to actually create the corridor.

An audio-only recording of the presentation and discussion is available if anyone is interested.

This meeting will not be televised, but you can download the entire City Council packet with much of the presentation material at this link.

–John Kiljan

7 December 2014

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Local Election Results

by John Kiljan

Dear CLRC members and friends,

Here is an update on the latest local election results. These numbers are as of Wednesday night, December 5th, and are still likely to change as military, overseas and “cured” ballots come in. The two Colorado Senate races we covered are still too close to call and it may be another week before we know who won.

VoteminiCured ballots are those that were turned in but the voter either forgot to sign the ballot, or their signature did not did not match the signatures on file closely enough to satisfy the election judges, or they haven’t provided proper identification. Those voters will have a chance to cure their ballots and have their votes counted if they can respond by November 12th to a notification the County will send out.

Unless a recount is needed, the County will then have until November 20th post a final official result. If a recount is needed, then the final result may be delayed until as late as December 4th.

Recounts are not automatic unless the runner up is closer than 1/2 of 1% of the votes received by the highest candidate. That’s a pretty tight standard and the current voting machines are pretty accurate. With the numbers shown below, none of the second-place candidates would currently qualify for an automatic recount.

Jefferson County Election Results

Last updated: 11/5/2014 8:08:43 PM MST

Laura J. Woods (REP) 29,208 47.81%
Rachel Zenzinger (DEM) 28,367 46.44%
Gregg Miller (LIB) 3,512 5.75%
Total 61,087


Cheri Jahn (DEM) 32,465 46.69%
Larry Queen (REP) 32,269 46.41%
Chris Heismann (LIB) 4,799 6.90%
Total 69,533


Joseph DeMott (REP) 14,882 46.90%
Jessie Danielson (DEM) 16,852 53.10%
Total 31,734


Wade Michael Norris (DEM) 15,001 39.73%
Libby Szabo (REP) 20,628 54.63%
Niles Aronson (LIB) 2,132 5.65%
Total 37,761


Susan Kochevar (REP) 12,987 44.26%
Tracy Kraft-Tharp (DEM) 14,412 49.12%
Hans Romer (LIB) 1,942 6.62%
Total 29,341


All Registered Voters: 422,691

Ballots Cast: 253,697

Voter Turnout: 60.02%

And this election result from Historic Olde Town Arvada:

BID ELECTION RESULTS — Last night, the Spencer Fane law firm informed us that the vote to fund the Olde Town Business Improvement District has passed by 49 to 14. The vote approved an 8.5 mil levy increase on the commercial real properties within the district. This increase will appear on the tax notices you receive in early 2015.

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