by John Kiljan
[updated 10 March 2016]
Did you ever want to live above a grocery store while looking out over a park and a new shopping center? That may sound strange, but you may soon have that opportunity where the strip mall that is now home to Chuck E Cheese at Ralston Road and Garrison Street is located. That, and other innovative development concepts for this part of the Triangle shopping center, were discussed at length at what turned out to be a very interesting (and long) urban renewal board meeting on Wednesday night.
And a housing-above-retail concept may not be as strange as it first sounds. A King Soopers that also has four/five stories of multi-family housing built above it was recently completed near Union Station and Coors Field in Denver. That project seems to have received enthusiastic support from civic organizations as well as from local residents. Here is a link to a Denver Post news article from last summer about the project:
But central Arvada is far from being as heavily urbanized as Lo-Do in Denver. Most of the proposed developments in Arvada Square are for a large number of small storefronts with easy walkable access from the other parts of the Triangle shopping centers, the nearby Ralston Central Park, and the surrounding residential neighborhoods.
As for the old Safeway building, the concept is to replace it with a Park Place Olde Town-type structure with two large elevated plazas looking out over Ralston Creek and the park to the east, and over the rebuilt shopping center to the south.
As with Park Place at the corner of the Wadsworth Bypass and Ralston Road, parking, wherever possible, will be tucked under the residential structures. Still, some additional surface parking will be needed to provide a minimum of 1.5 parking spaces per residential unit. The new multi-family units are expected to be one and two bedrooms with some studio apartments as well. All are planned to be rental apartments, but there has been some discussion of including owner-occupied housing into the mix as well. A total of 307 units are currently being planned. That’s down from over 400 units that had been proposed by an earlier developer.
So far, these are just concepts being run past the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority (AURA) board for feedback by its commissioners. Several board members said that they didn’t like the idea of new retail being pushed back from Ralston Road to a location closer to Ralston Creek since more modern shopping center designs tend not to do that. But the developer countered that there simply wasn’t enough room between the gas station (Pennetta’s Auto Repair) and the UC Health ER facility to put in a significant development.
Moreover, the view over the parking area from Ralston Road was needed to attract tenants for another large retail space. No specific grocer is being planned, but because of limited space it is expected to be one with a smaller footprint that caters to a niche market such as Sprouts Farmers Market, Lucky’s Market, or Trader Joe’s.
And the new developments on the corner where the Big O tire shop used to be will be built up-close to Ralston Road and Independence Street. Those new retail developments are collectively called Phase One of Ralston Creek North and are to go to the Planning Commission for review next Tuesday. There was some discussion about the developer and City Staff not being in agreement about the need for a new turn lane on Independence Street. That item should come up at the Tuesday PC hearing.
The new development for the Safeway site and the strip mall to the east are in a follow-on Phase Two development that is still very conceptual. It was the possibilities for Phase Two that took up most of the meeting’s discussion. Much of the changes from the earlier concepts presented at a public meeting have come about because 24 Hour fitness could not reach an agreement to occupy the old Safeway building. The Safeway building is now expected to be pulled down this summer.
Personally, I thought this meeting was a fascinating look at how Arvada’s commercial and residential history is unfolding and what the image of central Arvada could look like for generations to come. It’s also a good insight into how urban renewal works in Arvada’s blighted areas and how decisions about what Arvada will become in the future are made.
Don’t feel left out if you missed this open-to-the-public AURA board meeting. The whole Loftus presentation and commissioners’ comments were video recorded by the CLRC, so you can hear the discussions that went on. They are in a series of three recent YouTube postings. If you are interested in any of this you might find it worthwhile to look at what amounts to a total of 75 minutes of videos. The links to view them are
The presenters at the meeting were Jim Loftus, who is the developer, and Tim Van Meter, who is the developer’s architect. The other people visible are the AURA board members and their staff. The discussion about the extra turn lane on Independence is in the last third of the videos. Five members of the public also sat in. These videos were taken with a pocket handheld camera that can also take a 30 minute video, so don’t expect a quality recording.
[Update 10 March 2016] On Tuesday evening, the Planning Commission approved the development plan for Phase One in Ralston Creek North (aka, the Shops at Ralston Creek, the Arvada Square, and as Independence Plaza) without adding a requirement for a full right turn lane on Independence northbound to be shared with the previously planned bicycle path on that street.
The approval was subject to the City Staff recommendations to the Planning Commission, but the recommendations were changed from the publicly posted Commission packet in a revised submittal before the meeting. The relevant revision on page 14 reads:
- At the FDP, bicycle and pedestrian connectivity to Ralston Creek Trail using Holland Street as well as W. 58th Place (shown on the PDP as a private drive) must be providedwith the first phase of the development.
- At the FDP, provide public access easements on primary bicycle and pedestrian routes from the intersection of Ralston Road and Independence Street to the Ralston CreekTrail Connection and from public plazas in any location where public right-of-way is not provided.
FDP means the Final Development Plan. The door still seems to be open to widening the planned bike lane on Independence Street north of 58th to allow it to be shared with cars in the future if traffic warrants it, but that’s not what the Commission approved on Tuesday night. The developer had argued that the additional turn lane was not needed to reduce congestion and would make the exclusive bike lane on Independence less safe if it had to be shared with turning vehicles.
You can see a video recording of the meeting on YouTube at this link. The part concerning Ralston Creek North (Arvada Square) begins at about the 37-minute mark and runs for over half an hour.
The next step for Phase One will be when it comes before the full City Council during a meeting that is now scheduled for April 4th.
[End of update]
WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
The City of Arvada Planning Commission meeting will only cover the development plans for the buildings going into the Phase One site – the Triangle Liquors, Big O, and Ace check cashing businesses north to the traffic light that is the entry to the Goodyear Auto Service Center. The PC meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at 6:30 pm in City Hall in the Council Chambers. The meeting is open to the public.
You can see the Commissioner’s packet (for a while yet) at this link:
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
March 4, 2016