by John Kiljan
Dear CLRC members and friends,
The latest updates given at last Wednesday’s urban renewal meeting confirmed that Walmart is letting its construction schedule for the Arvada Plaza Supercenter slip by another five months. Even the Grinch won’t be able to shop there during next year’s Christmas shopping season. The revised schedule now says that Walmart will not start construction until late March or early April of 2016 – presumably to avoid ground work during the winter months. And those who want to boycott Walmart will now have to wait at least until April of 2017 to urge shoppers not to patronize the new outlet when it opens.
Part of the problem seems to be that the site developer, IRG, still does not have permission from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to demo the entire site. That’s a little surprising, and no reason was given for the approval delay at the Wednesday night AURA meeting. Originally, the site was supposed to be cleared for construction by the middle of October. And looking at the site recently, it appears demolition activity has stopped with the center buildings and a lot of asphalt paving having been removed – while the demolition has not even started on most of the site’s perimeter buildings. In the briefing, it was stated that the remaining demolition work and site preparation is now expected to last through December of this year.
A brief comment as AURA went into executive session at its last meeting on October 21st to discuss what to offer the Ralston Road Café for its property generated a lot of speculation on social media that the venerable Ralston Road Café was being condemned by urban renewal, or the owners were otherwise being forced to sell under that threat. Or even that the business was being forced to close as a part of a secret urban renewal policy targeting small Arvada businesses in favor of large retail chains and developers. No, I’m not kidding.
None of that turned out to be true. The speculation of a forced sale of Café seems to have been no more than campaign rhetoric for the Arvada City Council race that ended on November 3rd. What really happened was that the owners of the Café put their property up for sale on the open market and their real estate agent approached urban renewal to ask if they would be willing to buy the property and lease the site back to the business so the Café could continue to operate.
And that’s likely to happen. AURA now has a contract to buy the property and the building, but not the business itself. The purchase is due to close next month. The owners will keep business with the understanding that the Ralston Road Café will be able to stay on the site indefinitely. AURA will only move to redevelop the parcel when the Café decides it wants to give up its lease in the future.
Everyone living in this part of Arvada as long as I have will remember that restaurant going all the way back to when it was operated as a Sambo’s pancake restaurant in the 1970s. It’s a part of central Arvada’s history, and it’s good to see urban renewal helping it to stay in business.
Walmart’s delay has not affected developments north of that part of Ralston Road, which is still referred to as Arvada Square. The preferred developer, Loftus, hopes to ink an agreement with urban renewal for the first phase of reconstruction there shortly after a special AURA meeting to be held on November 18th. If that agreement goes through, groundbreaking could take place at the site of the old Big O and Safeway stores sometime in May of 2016 – although the agreement with AURA will allow that date to be pushed back as far as December of 2016. Loftus has assured AURA that the agreement with 24 Hour Fitness is complete and the renovation of the old Safeway (or for its complete removal and replacement) will begin shortly after groundbreaking.
AURA has worked up an estimate of the tax benefits to the City, to the State and to a number of other public agencies for the first two phases of what will be rebranded as Ralston Creek North. I’m still digging through all of the numbers, but, hopefully, I can do another article on that just subject later in the month.
The second phase of Ralston Creek North, which will include the Chuck E Cheese strip mall, will see no activity until well into 2016, if not later. But it will eventually include multi-family housing and even more retail on that site. Currently, 250 new housing units are being planned for phase two, and some of them may be owner-occupied. That’s quite a few less than was originally planned for the project.
In other news, construction has started on the Solana apartments just east of the Wadsworth Bypass in Olde Town. The industrial buildings on the site have been fenced off for demolition and hazardous material abatement. Their first units are expected to become available for leasing in the spring of 2017.
Construction of the new Hilton Garden Inn hotel on Olde Wadsworth Boulevard is expected to start with the demolition of the old building fairly soon, but the project hit a snag when the AURA board asked the developer to improve the look and maintainability of the new hotel by replacing some of the lower faux-stone stucco on the building with real stone. The developer already has approval to go with an all-stucco building, but is willing to replace it with stonework if AURA picks up the additional cost – about $186,000, but the board itself was divided on the wisdom of funding an improvement that would not provide a direct benefit to the City. After a lengthy discussion, the majority of the board voted to go ahead with the “betterment” to the building. Citing four previous hotel proposals that failed when financing was pulled by lenders, the board also agreed to speed up the property’s deed transfer and reimbursement for the cost of the stonework to help the developer keep the available financing for the new hotel.
Even with the new stonework, the overall look of the building from a distance will not change noticeably from the final proposal’s design already approved by the City of Arvada.
For Park Place in Olde Town, work has been moving at a fast clip and the first tenants should be moving into the south end of the new apartments at Ralston Road and the Wadsworth Bypass this week. The developer has 41 units preleased for the half of the building that is now opening up to new residents. That’s quite a few leases for a new apartment building, and even more are expected in the next few days. There are supposed to be 153 units in all when the remainder of the building is completed early next year.
WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
There is a recent CLRC posting about the possibility of a delay in actually building and opening the new Arvada Plaza Walmart, but it might have gotten buried in all our election coverage articles. If you missed it, you can read that article again at this link:
I found the short update about the Ralston Road Café purchase to be interesting. You can view a short video of what the discussion at the urban renewal board meeting was by clicking on this Dropbox link. You should not have to register with Dropbox to view the video.
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
November 8, 2015