Redevelopment tops year's headlines

Cities see sparks of life as businesses move in

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Flooding prompted closures on Riverdale Road near Henderson Road in Adams County in September.
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Thornton police Chief Randy Nelson talks to the media at a press conference Tuesday about the Adams County sheriff turning away prisoners last week. From left, Brighton Chief Clint Blackhurst, Commerce City Chief Troy Smith, and Westminster Chief Lee Birk join Nelson and Aurora Chief Dan Oates (not in picture) who served as the spokesman.
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People view the FasTracks West Rail Line at the Lamar Street station on its opening day in April. RTD Board of Directors has secured a contract to get the North Metro Rail Line built to 124th Avenue, which is expected to open for service mid-2018.
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Cabela’s held its grand opening Aug. 15 at its new retail store at The Grove, 144th avenue and Interstate 25, in Thornton. Thousands of people flocked to the store over the weekend, and hundreds showed up the evening before as this photo shows.
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A construction crew works on one of six buildings that is part of the Webster Lake Promenade development at 120th Avenue and Grant Street in Northglenn in November. Most businesses plan to hold grand openings over the summer.

From devastating statewide flooding to the heart-breaking court process for a child killer to long-waited economic development and rail projects to a show-down with the Adams County sheriff and local police chiefs — 2013 was a busy newsmaking year. In no particular order, here are Colorado Community Media’s top 10 biggest stories of the year for the Northglenn-Thornton Sentinel:

FasTracks line in north becoming reality

The Regional Transportation District Board of Directors voted Nov. 26 to hire Graham, Balfour Beatty, Hamon Constructors to design and build the North Metro Rail Line to 124th Avenue.

Construction will likely begin mid-2014 and the line should be ready for use in 2018 following testing, said RTD Project Manager Jim Starling.

The contract bid was for $343 million and will be paid by issuing Certificates of Participation (COPS). The line is supposed to end at Highway 7/162nd Avenue but RTD has funding only planned for up to 124th at this time.

The North Metro Rail line is 18.5 miles of electric commuter rail that connects Denver Union Station with Northglenn, Commerce City and Thornton.

Funding is already in place for the first part of the North Metro Line, between Denver Union Station and the National Western Stock Show. The construction of that segment is expected to be completed by 2017.

In September, RTD vowed that securing funding for the North Metro Line up to 72nd Avenue was a top priority. This vow came on the heels of public criticism by area leaders after RTD board decided against placing a 0.4 percent sales tax increase on the November 2012 ballot, which would have helped fund the construction of the North Metro and Northwest lines. They also criticized the board for approving and funding extensions before the entire FasTracks have been built out.

When the RTD board approved its amended regional transportation plan last year, the plan stated that service to 72nd would not happen until the 2030-35 timeframe with the funding currently available.

The future began looking brighter for the North Metro Rail Line in February when RTD received an unsolicited proposal to build the line, which led to RTD looking at other options and soliciting for bids.

Former Target site eyed for auto sales, café, offices

After more than 12 years of trying to secure a developer for the 15 acres of land south of east 104th Avenue between Grant and Washington streets, known commonly as the former Target site, the city is selling the property to three developers.

City Council, acting as the Thornton Development Authority (TDA), approved during its Oct. 29 meeting agreements to sell 11.1 acres for the development of an auto dealership and 1.622 acres for leased office space.

At a previous meeting, the TDA agreed to sell 2.37 acres of land south of the Texas Roadhouse restaurant along the east side of Grant Street for $519,714 to $633,798 (final cost depends on size of facility) to the Riverside Restaurant Group Holdings Inc. It plans to build and operate a 7,939-square-foot Cheddars Casual Café. Staff expects an opening next summer or fall.

SRE-Colorado 3 LLC has agreed to purchase 11.1036 acres south of east 104th in the central portion of the property for $2,814,983. It plans to build and operate Sonic Automotive, which will feature two buildings, totaling 50,000 to 75,000 square feet, for office, auto sales and vehicle preparation

The TDA unanimously approved to sell 1.622 acres to North Forest Office Space of Colorado LLC to build and operate a 14,500-square-foot facility that will be used as leased office space.

Cabela’s opens third site in Thornton

The international outdoor outfitter and retailer Cabela’s opened its doors on Aug. 15 at 144th Avenue and Interstate 25 in Thornton.

The store will serve as an anchor to a 63-acre retail development called The Grove, which is located at the southeast corner of 144th and I-25. The Grove is projected to have 290,000 square feet of hospitality and retail space in addition to Cabela’s 90,000 square-foot store.

Cabela’s also held a grand opening the week before for its Lone Tree location. The store already has a site in Grand Junction.

In addition to thousands of outdoor products, Cabela’s will feature a gabled entry facade, fireplace, Gun Library, Bargain Cave, Fudge Shop and mountain replica featuring North American game animals re-created in their natural habitat.

Work begins on Interstate 25 toll lanes

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) began work on the I-25 project Oct. 7 that creates a high occupancy vehicle (HOV) tolled express lanes from U.S. 36 to 120th Avenue. The project, which is expected to be completed in October 2015, calls for the construction of six miles of a new managed lane in each direction. This work includes lowering I-25 at the 88th Avenue bridge to meet clearance regulations, repaving of the road and installing approximately 3,700 feet of new concrete noise walls.

Some of the work will require CDOT to switch traffic on either side and there will be a public campaign to alert motorists of what to expect.

The express lanes will be separated from the general purpose lanes by solid white lines instead of barriers. There will be designated ingress and egress zones situated between each interchange so motorists can get in and out of the managed lanes easily, Stratton said.

Although CDOT does not have pricing information at this time on transponders, HOVs using the managed lanes will be required to have one.

Right now to be designated as a high occupancy vehicle, there must be at least two passengers in the vehicle. That number increased to three in 2017.

The project has $59.3 million in total funding, made possible through a mixture of federal, state and local contributions. The funding breakdown is: $15 million from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, $30.33 million from other federal funds, $8.7 million from the state, $1.75 million from Thornton, $1.5 million from Adams County, $750,000 from the Regional Transportation District (RTD), $550,000 from Northglenn, $500,000 from Westminster, $150,000 from Federal Heights, $50,000 from Broomfield and$25,000 from Weld County.

To keep updated on the project, visit

September floods damage roads

While Thornton and Adams County didn’t experience the amount of damage other cities did during the flooding in September, some repairs may take a few years.

The biggest concern for Thornton was the breach of one of its 12 dams along the South Platte River.

Repairing the breached berm will take six to 12 months and is the top priority for the city. It could take between 18 to 24 months to repair the erosion on the other berms.

The flooding in other parts of the city occurred from overflowing streams, backed up sewers and gutters and detention ponds at full capacity and overflowing

Beginning as early as 1 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, through midday the next day, the city had approximately a dozen roads completely closed and another dozen with lane closures. Some of those full closures included York Street between E470 and 156th Avenue, 144th Avenue from Washington to York streets, McKay Road from 104th to 96th avenues and southbound Colorado Boulevard from 104th to 102nd avenues.

The city did lose the pedestrian bridge over Grange Hall Creek, and experienced erosion in multiple areas — including losing a portion of the shoulder on 128th Avenue west of Riverdale Road, which exposed a gas line, sewer manhole and a communications conduit — but no roads were lost.

Parts of northern Adams County were affected by the flooding including Riverdale Golf Course and the Regional Park. Rich Neumann, communications manager with Adams County, said the gulch that runs through those two areas caused flooding and erosion in several places including the newly created reservoirs between the Regional Park and 120th Avenue.

The Regional Park shop was also flooded as well as the Riverdale Golf Shop.

Sigg receives life in prison for Ridgeway murder

On Nov. 19, 2013 Jefferson County District Court Chief Judge Stephen Munsinger sentenced 18-year-old Sigg to life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 40 years, plus an additional 86 years for the kidnapping and murder of Jessica Ridgeway. Although Sigg is eligible for parole, due to the sentencing of the 14 other counts, he will live the rest of his life behind bars. 

The sentencing came after one and half days of testimony and comments from Jessica Ridgeway’s family. After the conclusion, District Attorney Pete Weir said he was pleased with the outcome and thought the judge’s sentence was thoughtful and appropriate.

Just days before trial was set to begin, Sigg had a change of heart and changed is initial not guilty plea, to guilty on all counts relieving both the Ridgeway and Sigg families the heartache of reliving the day Sigg kidnapped and murdered Jessica Ridgeway.

During the sentencing hearing, Sarah Ridgeway, Jessica’s mother, chose not to address the case or the crime. She simply said, “I am not saying anything because the defendant doesn’t deserve to hear how this has affected me emotionally. I will not remember him after I walk out these doors, I’ll only remember Jessica and her legacy.”

Sigg chose not to make a statement to the judge before or after his sentencing, and his family members present also did not approach the judge

Jessica disappeared on Oct. 5, 2012 on her way to school in Westminster. Her disappearance marked a massive search effort involving law enforcement agencies and volunteers. Parts of her body were found in Arvada and later in Sigg’s home. Sigg admitted to kidnapping and murdering Jessica to his mother before law enforcement was called. He was arrested on Oct. 23, 2012.

Corinthian Colleges becomes Thornton’s second largest employer

In May, Thornton City Council unanimously approved an incentive agreement with Corinthian Colleges Inc. that paved the way for more than 500 new jobs to the city. Corinthian Colleges signed a lease to occupy space at the North Valley Tech Center for a customer service, marketing and financial support operation and the city will rebate the company half the use taxes (1.875 percent) for building materials, furniture, fixtures, equipment and operating expenses purchased over a five-year period.

Adam Krueger, the city’s manager of business attraction, said during a council meeting in May that although there is no monetary cap on the incentive, staff estimates the cost to be $58,000. Staff also estimated what the city would get in return.

“Estimated Thornton revenue are approximately $1.9 million over five years, that takes into account property tax, mill levy, permits and earnings spent on taxable retail from employees,” he said.

Corinthian Colleges will hire between 500 to 700 new employees, making it the second largest primary employer in the city, Krueger added.

“They’re occupying 82,000 square feet at the North Valley Tech Center, they’re filling the entire space that was vacated by T-Mobile customer service center less than a year ago,” he said.

Along with hiring more people than T-Mobile did, Krueger said the average salary for a Corinthian College employee is $38,450 plus benefits, whereas T-Mobile’s average salary was $30,000.

The college has signed a 10-year lease at the tech center and will fill over 22 percent of vacant space at the facility.

120th, Grant property gets developed

After more than 10 years of planning and several years waiting for a developer, the 10-acre commercial development at 120th Avenue and Grant Street is underway. Webster Lake Promenade broke ground in July and tenants are expected to move in as early as April or May.

The site includes 56,293 square feet of retail space with six building sites. The project will bring in approximately $13 million in capital investments and 200 new jobs, according to Hawkins Development.

The city and the Northglenn Urban Renewal Authority began assembling the 11 acres on 120th and Grant more than 10 years ago. A Days Inn and other businesses were demolished to prepare the site for development.

Tenants include Longhorn Steakhouse, Genghis Grill (Mongolian stir fry), Jimmy John’s and Edible Arrangements. May grand openings include Taziki’s Mediterranean Café, Pacific Dental, Jamba Juice, Café Rio Mexican Grill, Panera Bread, Select Comfort, Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, Parry’s Pizza and Jim `N Nick’s Bar-B-Q in November.

Chiefs, sheriff at odds over jail cap

The Adams County sheriff and police chiefs are at an impasse regarding the amount of municipal inmates that should be housed at the county jail.

Thornton, Westminster, Aurora, Commerce City and Brighton police chiefs aired public safety concerns related to inmates being turned away from the Adams County jail during a press conference May 28 at the Thornton Police Department. Sheriff Doug Darr responded with his own press conference May 29.

Darr said that budget cuts and hiring restrictions made by the board of county commissioners a couple years ago impacted the jail staffing.

The cap restriction, which began on Jan. 1, 2012, stood at 30 and was divided among nine municipalities based on their population in Adams County.

The caps, set by Sheriff Doug Darr, were as follows: Thornton, eight; Westminster, five; Aurora and Commerce City, four apiece; Northglenn and Brighton, three each; and one each for Federal Heights, Arvada and Bennett.

The commissioners unanimously approved during its April 15 meeting to rescind the caps placed on the number of inmates sent by cities to the county jail. However, the jail did turn away inmates in May.

Aurora Chief Dan Oates at the May 28 press conference that these prisoners were sentenced for crimes that included shoplifting, trespassing, misdemeanor battery, motor vehicle theft and prostitution and all had a criminal history.

The sheriff disputed the claim that he released violent offenders into the community, saying that in the past he’s seen inmates sentenced to jail for petty offenses such as obscene language, open container and one person who was sentenced for 360 days for loitering.

Wal-Mart to become Northglenn’s new grocer

Officials broke ground in December on a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market that will spark life to the Garland Center and neighboring area. The store is expected to open in the fall and may employ up to 65 associates.

The approximately 40,000 square-foot Market will offer a full grocery department, including organic and natural selections, and a pharmacy. The store will feature prepared food options, fresh-baked breads, a self-serve deli and a bakery.

Northglenn has had the Garland Center on its radar for redevelopment for nearly 10 years.

As the city’s oldest retail center, built more than 50 years ago, it was the hardest to develop because of multiply property owners, aging infrastructure and a 95 percent vacancy rate, said Debbie Tuttle, the city’s economic development manager. Past tenants have included various retail stores, dry cleaning and laundry facilities, food and liquor stores and restaurants — most notably, Tugs Bar and Grill, which became a Northglenn landmark over the years, she added.

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