King Soopers plotting return to Cottonwood

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The Parker Planning Commission paved the way for a redevelopment project that includes plans to demolish the long-abandoned King Soopers building in Cottonwood.

The commission voted unanimously July 11 to approve a site plan amendment to the Cottonwood Plaza shopping center on the northwest corner of South Parker Road and Cottonwood Drive.

Republic Investment Group submitted a proposal to make improvements to accommodate a new, 123,400-square-foot King Soopers Marketplace, which would sell groceries and general retail and include a Fred Meyers jewelry store, Starbucks and a pharmacy with a drive-thru window.

Republic Investment Group plans to demolish the strip containing Allegro Music, State Farm Insurance and Dependable Cleaners, and partially demolish the building that houses Tonti’s Pizza and FuNuGyz. A gas station will be developed near the Colorado State Bank & Trust and a retention pond will be built on the southwest corner of the parking lot. The Animal Emergency and Specialty Center will not be affected.

Cottonwood Plaza is widely known as the former home of King Soopers, which left the shopping center in 2004 because of sluggish sales largely resulting from the arrival of more competition. The anchor building has sat empty ever since and been labeled by some town officials as an “eyesore.”

The shopping center was declared “blighted” during a 2011 study that ended with a recommendation to establish an urban renewal district to generate tax-increment financing meant to encourage property owners to make improvements. The so-called “TIF” financing mechanism, however, has not been approved by town council and funding is not yet available.

John Hall, economic development director for the Town of Parker, said Cottonwood residents have largely been supportive of the re-development plan, not only because the area has been without a grocery store for so long, but also because it is believed it will increase property values. Some who attended the planning commission meeting expressed concern about vehicle traffic and noise from delivery trucks.

Hall cautioned that an agreement between King Soopers and Republic Investment Group is being negotiated and no final decisions have been made.

“We’ve all seen approved plans in the files that have never resulted in projects, but it’s my belief that this project will likely go forward,” he said.

The developer has indicated that demolition could begin in the second quarter of 2014, with a possible grand opening in the second quarter of 2015, Hall said. Republic Investment Group owner Grant Nelson did not immediately respond to an interview request the afternoon of July 15.

While news of the redevelopment plan has been generally well-received, there are a few who say their businesses are in danger. Chris Wedemeyer, who opened Tonti’s Pizzeria in 1992, says he’s being forced to relocate. Wedemeyer says he would have been looking for another location if he had known sooner that he would to leave by August. He said at least a half-dozen other businesses are being sacrificed for the benefit of one national retailer.

“When Kroger pushes, they win,” he said, referring to King Soopers’ parent company.

Wedemeyer, who expressed support for the redevelopment plan as a whole, said closing for even a few months could spell the end for the popular pizza shop, which he has spent 21 years building. He wants a phased demolition that would enable Tonti’s Pizzeria and next-door neighbor FuNuGyz to form a relocation plan.

Hall said the site amendment plan does not require approval from town council. The planning commission must still approve re-platting applications for minor improvements.

For more information about the plan, go to http://co-parker.civicplus.com/documents/98/485/Project%20Narrative-Update_201305301522446658.pdf.