Regardless of what was previously published in the Pikes Peak Courier and rumors to the contrary, the Tabeguache Steakhouse is still open for business but probably not for long. On April 10, the Woodland Park Planning Commission recommended approval of a conditional use permit application by US Beef Corporation, which if it receives final approval by the Woodland Park City Council, will allow the building to be transformed into an Arby’s Restaurant.
Fred Brocklesby knew this day was coming. He owns the steakhouse and leases the building at 407 E. U.S. 24. He said the building’s owners have been trying to sell for the past three years. He is looking for a place to relocate his business but he will stay in business at his present location until he needs to vacate.
Because the building is located in a Community Commercial zone, changing it into a fast-food restaurant with a drive thru requires a conditional use permit even though the site was home to a Sonic Restaurant in the 1980s and a Cruisers Drive-in in the 1990s.
Andy Benning, director of construction for this Arby’s franchise, represented the company at the meeting. He, architect David Langley and transportation engineer Robert Kenny tag-teamed on the applicant’s presentation to the commissioners. The building will require minimal construction, only the addition of a drive-thru window and some changes to its main entrance. The parking lot will also have some changes but Kenny said he believes the ingress/egress on Chester Avenue and a right-in/right-out driveway off U.S. 24 will adequately meet the needs of a fast-food restaurant.
According to City Planner Lisa Parnell, the site plan more than meets the building’s parking requirements and that the Colorado Department of Transportation has given its approval of the traffic study with one caveat, that if documented safety problems become evident some traffic-mitigation work might still be needed on U.S. 24 at the owner’s expense.
Four Woodland Park residents spoke against the transformation. Three of them were mostly concerned about increased traffic through their quiet neighborhood, light and noise pollution and the safety of pedestrians, especially high school students, crossing the highway in search of lunch.
Commissioners added a condition to the permit requiring the city planning staff to work with the applicant and the neighbors to find solutions to the noise and light issues and Planning Director Sally Riley said she is working with CDOT to find solutions to a number of safety issues involving the highway.
One resident brought up a question about whether or not the city needs another fast-food restaurant. Pamela Streck, who lives in Westwood Lakes and is a frequent guest at the steakhouse, said the city is already “saturated with fast-food businesses.”
“Will this (Arby’s) bring new business?” she asked. “Will it be able to compete?”
Commissioner Geoff Watson pointed out that the planning commission isn’t allowed to take these kinds of questions into consideration. Commissioners can only determine that the proposed use for the building meets the zoning criteria and then vote to recommend or deny approval based on that determination. That said, commissioners decided unanimously that it does meet the criteria. The case will move on to council for a first reading on April 17 and a public hearing and final determination on May 1.
Commission Chair Jon DeVaux said the neighbors would have another chance to voice their concerns at that May 1 meeting. After the commissioners adjourned the public meeting, they went into a work session to update and reprioritize action items in the 5-year-old Woodland Park Comprehensive Plan.