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ARCHIVED  August 1, 1997

Go west, Greeley

Developers answer siren call of city’s west side

GREELEY – It’s been 12 years since Alex Groos considered Greeley as a likely city for a building project.
He’s returned, though, to this municipality that holds an enormous lure for those who may unwittingly hark back to Horace Greeley’s edict of “Go west, young man.”
Groos, president of Denver’s respected Buell & Co., is one of many developers who will shape the future of the vast amount of land that is becoming west Greeley. It essentially stretches from 35th Avenue on the east to 88th Avenue on the west, and from Fourth Street on the north to 37th Street on the south.
“Everything (in that area) comes into play,´ said Michael Ehler, commercial broker with The Group Inc. of Greeley. “You’re talking a six- to eight-square-mile area.”
That translates into a territory that encompasses between 3,840 acres and 5,120 acres. And while every square foot of land certainly will not be developed, new commercial and residential projects on just a percentage of the acreage mean exponential growth for Greeley.
Eventually, the city could realistically reach even farther west to where the U.S. Highway 34 bypass and U.S. 34 business route converge – a location that now almost seems closer to Loveland than to Greeley.
As for Groos, his company is working on the development of the 150-acre Elks property at the southwest corner of 35th Avenue and the U.S. 34 bypass. One-third of the land is under contract to a yet-unnamed local residential development company that will build single-family homes.
“There likely will be high-profile retail on the corner,” Groos said. “Some major players are looking at Greeley. Retail (deals) certainly are under way.”
Groos, who last was in Weld County in the mid-1980s to build the Allstate building in Evans, said the Elks development will not host “anything outrageous,” and that the developers will work closely with both city officials and citizens to ensure sensible building.
There’s a host of other projects swirling around west Greeley. One of them, on West 10th Street between 54th and 59th avenues, is planned to be the location for a new 1st Choice Bank branch, Pizza Hut, Mariposa Plants, Wildflower Bagels, Phillips 66 gas station, Grease Monkey and Microtel Inn – a 56-room hotel geared to business travelers. A liquor store and chiropractic practice also may occupy part of the 15,000 square-feet planned retail space.
Tom Moser of Greeley owns the land, and it is being marketed by Ken Crumb, a local developer and Realtor at Terra West Real Estate Services Inc. of Greeley.
“I think the population in Greeley has been getting close to the mark where we will see more and more interest from franchises,” Crumb said.
Part of what is driving the wildly popular area around the West 10th Street and 59th Avenue intersection is the adjacent Country Club West residential subdivision. A fourth phase of residential construction is under way there.
In addition to the frontage retail on the Moser property, Roche Constructors Inc. recently completed a new State Farm Insurance Co. building to the north, and other office buildings are either under way or planned.
“We’re going to see at least 1,000 desk jobs coming in,” Crumb said.
And West 10th Street itself will be widened soon from 59th to 71st avenues. That project reportedly has been scaled back, though, from a full four-laning to a widening that will include a center turn-lane.
Further out on West 10th Street, several residential subdivisions could eventually materialize. On the north side of 10th Street, and west of 59th Avenue, a large family farm likely will sprout rooftops in the near future, not crops. Farther yet, near 77th Avenue, a 200-home project called Boomerang Ranch apparently is being planned.
At West 10th Street and 83rd Avenue, Lind Land Co. of Windsor is holding onto 25 acres of what someday could be very valuable dirt.
“When a connection to Denver International Airport is made,´ said Martin Lind, ” 83rd will definitely be a power intersection.”
The city planning staff estimates it this way: Between 1998 and 2002, a total of 2,792 additional housing units could be added to the city. That represents a five-year growth rate of 10.5 percent and a population increase of 7,120 people.
While that is what the planning staff anticipates could happen in the next five years, it also conducted an analysis in January of every potential residential development site in the city. The conclusion was that up to 14,621 additional units could be built within existing city limits.
Steve Baker of Sears and Co. The Team, is encouraged by the housing market, particularly if new construction can capture the $120,000 to $150,000 price range. His caution, however, is that commercial growth needs to accompany the rooftops.
“My wish is that Greeley would see more job sources come in,´ said the native. “Without more jobs coming in, Greeley will turn into a bedroom community.
The city also did a commercial survey this year. The February analysis predicted that 425 acres of commercial land will be consumed during the next five years. However, the planning staff notes that 948 acres of commercial land are available in the city limits, a figure that does not include smaller parcels with redevelopment potential.
A few large-acre projects could easily consume land referenced in the city study. Ed Orr’s 300-acre T-Bone Ranch near the southwest corner of U.S. 34 bypass and 47th Avenue will primarily support single-family and multifamily homes, but 29 acres is set aside for commercial development.
Orr said he has interest in both the commercial and residential projects. Indeed, Garnsey & Wheeler Ford has purchased 10 acres from Orr to relocate its downtown dealership. Across 47th Avenue, Windsor’s Lind Land Co. has sold six acres to the new Dennis Davis Auto Group. An additional six acres is ready for commercial use.
“We have intense interest,” Lind said. “There’s a good chance we’ll have closings this year.”
Another 300-acre project at the southeast corner of 35th Avenue and 37th Street is being marketed for large-scale, mixed-use development. Realtor Lee Hamilton said the land is under contract and is going through a due-diligence period.
Nearby, on the north side of 37th Street near 23rd Avenue, grading work has begun on a large parcel that sits downhill from the super Wal-Mart.
Many developers are anxious to see how the city reacts to the development boom with updated fee structures.
“I think the city needs to be very careful and understand that we are a great community,” T-Bone Ranch’s Orr said. “I think the fees will affect us very adversely.”
While Orr believes higher fees could eliminate some commercial activity, he doesn’t think the outcome will be so devastating for residential projects.
Terra West’s Crumb said his concern is that developers are so busy with projects that “nobody has time to be an activist and oversee the city.
“Hopefully, the golden goose isn’t killed in the process,” he said, noting that certain high fees can halt beneficial development.
The flip side, Crumb said, is that land prices in Greeley are low enough that they may offset fee hikes. Plus, he said, the planning process in Greeley still remains much more friendly and is easier to deal with than in other Northern Colorado communities.
“I think we can survive fee changes,” he said.
Becky Safarick, community development manager, said the city generally tries to remain attractive to developers while making fees competitive with other Front Range communities.
As for the long-term, city leaders and developers alike believe development will keep creeping west, even to where the U.S. 34s converge.
“Years down the road, major retailers may choose to locate at that triangle,´ said Lyle Butler, president of the Greeley/Weld Chamber of Commerce.
A power center or mall there would serve not only Greeley, but fast-growing Windsor, Johnstown and other nearby communities.

Developers answer siren call of city’s west side

GREELEY – It’s been 12 years since Alex Groos considered Greeley as a likely city for a building project.
He’s returned, though, to this municipality that holds an enormous lure for those who may unwittingly hark back to Horace Greeley’s edict of “Go west, young man.”
Groos, president of Denver’s respected Buell & Co., is one of many developers who will shape the future of the vast amount of land that is becoming west Greeley. It essentially stretches from 35th Avenue on the east to 88th Avenue on the west, and from…

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