by John Kiljan
In a public meeting held last Wednesday, the developers for the old Safeway building and the Chuck E Cheese strip mall in Arvada Square outlined their concepts for building new residences in the shopping center before taking their design plans to the City of Arvada to begin the City’s drawn-out approval process. At the meeting there was a 26-minute public presentation with graphics and a video followed by 37 minutes of general questions and answers. That was followed by one-on-one discussions with the attendees.
The new development will be rebranded as Ralston Creek North to differentiate it from the Walmart shopping center located on opposite side of Ralston Road to the south. The names Independence Plaza, the Triangle, and Arvada Square will go away. The developement partnership with Jim Loftus also has a new corporate name. It’s now Ralston Creek North, LLC.
Attendance at the meeting was light – only about 45 people – possibly because this was the first good weather day after a couple of weeks of rain. Notification post cards had been sent out to every address within 1500 feet of the development. For those who did not attend, the CLRC video-recorded the presentation part and audio-recorded the general question-and-answer part as well. Readers can find those recordings at the links below.
The Wednesday meeting only concerned Phase Two of the development project, which consists mostly of new multi-family housing along the south side of Ralston Creek. Phase One of the project has already been approved by the City of Arvada and is expected to begin construction in July or August with the demolition of the existing buildings on the corner of Ralston Road and Independence Street. Phase One consists of 15 to 20 small shops stretching from Holland Street to Independence Street.
Phase Two will also have some retail in addition to 300 new housing units in three separate blocks that are its primary feature. Most notably, that new retail will include a 30,000 square foot space located under the middle set of apartments to be constructed about where the Family Dollar store is now. It is hoped that a small-footprint specialty grocer, such as a Trader Joe’s, will want to occupy that space, but no grocer has been identified yet. Nor have any other lease contracts been signed for businesses to be located in Phase Two – it is simply too early for that.
Even the Phase One shops due to start construction this year have no tenants signed up so far. That Phase is expected to emphasize fast-casual dining. In addition, the current Ralston Road Café is expected to stay on at its current location, even though it will eventually be redeveloped as well.
This public input meeting came months sooner than I thought it would. The developer is moving much faster than what would normally be expected for an urban renewal project of this kind. The impetus for that accelerated schedule may be the current market. As another urban renewal developer recently said, the three most important things when planning new developments are “timing, timing, and timing”. The economic climate for urban renewal is good right now. In a couple of years, it may not be. And it could be difficult to get anyone to invest in this kind of development if the economy changes.
Or, it may simply be that the new Phase One restaurants and retail shops in the development need the new Phase Two housing to thrive. Or, it could be a combination of both. Readers’ insight would be welcome.
What’s coming up next is conferences between the developer and the City’s staff going over the design details, compliance with the Outline Development Plan (ODP) for the area approved by the City Council in 2011, code requirements for new construction, traffic reviews, fire access reviews, school impacts, and the possible need for variances, waivers and exemptions to complete the preliminary design. It looks like a height exception for four stories will be needed, but that has already been approved in the ODP.
After all that, a preliminary design goes before the Arvada Planning Commission for its review and approval in a public hearing. The Planning Commission’s recommendations are not binding on the City Council, but the Council usually follows their advice. That final approval of the preliminary plan will be the subject of an open hearing by the Council afterward. Only then, will final plans be approved before construction begins.
That’s a lot to have happen in a year, but the developer is hoping to begin construction on Phase Two in the second quarter of 2017 and to have construction complete about a year or so later.
If you have input you’d like to have considered during the design approval process, now would be a very good time to provide that. The City’s Senior Planner, Carol Ibanez, is the contact person for further comment. She can be reached at 720-898-7463, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org . Ms Ibanez sat through developers’ presentation and the question-and-answer session that followed, so she is already familiar with the issues that were raised by the attendees. There will be an opportunity for still further public input when the preliminary design packet goes before the entire Planning Commission afterward. [update: Carol is out of the office until June 1st, but you can leave a message for her on her voicemail for when she gets back. If you need to talk with someone before then, you can call Community Development at 720-898-7435 and ask to talk with the “planner of the day” who will pass on your comments to Carol when she returns.]
Here’s the link to the YouTube video of the Wednesday night presentation. This video is a little different than earlier video postings since it shows both before and after pictures at the same location. That better orientates viewers to what is going where in the Phase Two development. I’m sorry about the bad sound and lighting, but I could only work with what I had when making the recording.
The audio during the question and answer sessions is even harder to hear because of the acoustics of the meeting room. That’s why they were recorded separately. You should be able to listen to (or download) that file from my Dropbox account without registering. Here’s the link for that:
WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
The CLRC has been reporting on urban renewal developments in the Triangle shopping centers since 2011. Our most recent article can be found at this link:
It has more still photos and a link to an earlier YouTube video that shows the decision-making process going on in the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority’s offices when they were presented with this concept earlier in the month.
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.
For now at least, 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”. Like the Triangle itself, changes are coming to the CLRC and we are not sure how much longer those two sites will be active. You can also write to us, call us or email us at
c/o John Kiljan, Secretary
6185 Field Street
Arvada, CO 80004
May 22, 2016