by John Kiljan
Dear CLRC members and friends,
That possibility was raised at an urban renewal authority meeting last Wednesday night. With the demolition of the old Arvada Plaza shopping center at Ralston Road and Holland Street half completed, many have been wondering when the new Walmart discount retailer will be open for business. When Walmart first proposed the somewhat undersized Supercenter for the Triangle in early 2013, they estimated that, once started, it would take 11 to 12 months to complete the building and stock it. That would have meant a store opening sometime in 2015.
But that timeline was disrupted when the resident AutoZone business at the same location said that they would not move from their old building until a new AutoZone had been built for them on the site. That happened – and a nice looking new building it is – but it also set the Walmart construction schedule back by a year. With the Walmart site expected to be ready for construction in the next few weeks, the opening date should come by the end of 2016.
That may still happen, but some other things have changed since 2013: The economy is now booming. And that was AURA Executive Director Maureen Phair’s warning to urban renewal’s governing board of commissioners. And it’s not just Walmart. Across the construction industry, projects that had been taking 11 months to complete are now taking a year-and-a-half to two years to get done in Colorado.
The reason is because of the shortage of skilled labor and a spike in the overall cost of construction. She also said that, in the last five years, construction costs have risen by 80%, or 12% to 15% per year more recently. She said that there is a particular shortage of laborers who can do concrete work.
Walmart isn’t saying that there will be another opening delay, but they are not giving an estimated time for completion either. How late can Walmart hold back the opening of its new Triangle outlet? Quite a while if they need to.
According to the terms of the agreement the developer has with the City of Arvada, Walmart does not have to open its doors until September 1st of 2018 before IRG’s sales-tax rebate incentive is at risk. That’s almost three years from now and the City has the option to extend that deadline if they want to.
That means that Walmart could delay the start of construction until late next year and still make the developer’s deadline for getting a sales tax rebate. Right now no one seems to think that is going to happen, but a lot can change in the economy in a single year.
Meanwhile, across the street in the Arvada Square shopping center, where the Safeway building and Big O tire shop now sit empty, things are moving fast with a different developer. The preferred Arvada Square developer, Loftus, may have its final Design Development Agreement (DDA) with urban renewal signed by the 18th of next month. Loftus is also saying that negotiations with 24 Hour Fitness to move into the old Safeway building are now complete and the parties are just waiting to sign their own development agreement. Loftus still hopes to break ground on the site as soon as May of 2016, and 24 Hour fitness is said to be keen to get started on their reconstruction work for the old building.
That schedule seems pretty optimistic to me, but it also makes it possible that these Phase I Arvada Square developments will be open for business before Walmart opens up. The Phase II Arvada Square development, where the Chuck E Cheese outlet is now, will not be available to urban renewal for redevelopment until after the middle of 2016.
Is the Ralston Road Café for sale? Anyone who knows isn’t yet saying, but there was an AURA agenda item to discuss purchasing the property. It was held in executive session and closed to the public. Like the adjacent car repair garage, the Café next to the closed Safeway is a part of the urban renewal area, but it is not a part of the Phase I redevelopment offering for Loftus.
Moreover, AURA has a no-condemnation policy that should prevent a sale being forced on the owners. The Café should expect quite a bit more customer traffic as that corner of the Arvada Square gets developed next year. So if they are selling, they may get a pretty good price for the property. Or it could be that the Loftus developer wants to acquire the property themselves. All speculation, of course, but this could get interesting.
At the Solana Olde Town Station apartments on the east side of the Wadsworth Bypass at 56th, yet another developer has already fenced off the site and has nearly finished their hazmat remediation. They’ve also begun removing some of the trees on the site. Earlier, Solana was given an nine-month extension to complete that project without jeopardizing its tax-increment financing (TIF) reimbursements for developing the area. That time extension was at the request of their financers who were also worried about the difficulty of finding skilled labor for the work.
And, believe it or not, the first phase of the Park Place Olde Town apartments is projected to be open for tenant occupation on November 5th – even while the rest of the building is under construction. Park Place has also been experiencing labor shortages on their electrical and finish work, but they still think they will have people living there early next month.
At the Hilton Garden Inn site on Olde Wadsworth Boulevard, the lot is scheduled to be fenced off very soon. The supplemental parking site for Olde Town at that location will not be fenced off, however, and it will remain available for public parking during most of the hotel’s construction. Site demolition is expected to start in mid-November.
During this AURA meeting, the Mayor said how pleased he was to see the widening on Ralston Road between Olde Town and the Triangle given a $15 million funding authorization by the City Council as a part of its capital improvements program. He said the City is already starting to work on filling the gaps in the sidewalks along that stretch of the road and widening other sidewalk “pinch points”. Where they have room, the City is planning to set the new sidewalks back away from the travelled roadway.
The Mayor also said that the latest estimates that he’s getting now say that the Gold Line will be open for passengers sometime in October of 2016.
WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community is an independent neighborhood association representing the neighborhoods adjacent to Ralston Road from the Wadsworth Bypass to the Kipling Parkway.
You can read all of our articles on our main website at http://www.RalstonCommunity.org or you can read even more posts on our Facebook page at “CLRC – Citizens for a Liveable Ralston Community”. You can write to us, call us or email us at
c/o John Kiljan, Secretary
6185 Field Street
Arvada, CO 80004
October 23, 2015