In the past year, the Grandview Station condo and retail development project has been up for discussion at Arvada City Council multiple times. Council first voted the project down in December 2019; voted to rehear the project in January; voted to cancel the rehearing and allow the developer to submit a new application in June; and now has voted to approve the revised project on Aug. 17.
The council approval comes a year after community and economic development director Ryan Stachelski issued a certificate of compliance for the first version of the project, in August 2019. But a number of delays, such as business owner Lori Drienka appealing the project’s first approval, have held construction off for the past 12 months.
Drienka owns the business next door to the properties in question — 7315 and 7317 Grandview Ave. and 7318 W. 57th Ave. — and has fought the project, saying that because the property is of a larger scale than nearby buildings and will replace 20th century houses, it will detract from the area’s historic feel. Drienka started petitions against the project that have gained more than 2,000 signatures to date.
In regards to the now 12-month delay for the project, such a long waiting period is not the norm for developments in Arvada, said Stachelski. He pointed to several unusual circumstances that contributed to the delay. These include the city’s adoption of a new Land Development Code in May 2020 and a ruling on a separate court case for another development in the area, which sparked the city to rethink the decision to hold a rehearing for Grandview Station because it could lead to a similar court case.
Despite the fact that theoretically, a future development could face a similar wait time, “the path this project took was unique and not something we believe is going to happen again in the future,” Stachelski said.
In December, when the project was originally voted down, Mayor Marc Williams and councilmembers Bob Fifer and Lauren Simpson voted no on the project. Councilmember Nancy Ford recused herself from the vote, having previously signed Drienka’s petition at a time when she did not know the issue would go before council. All others voted yes, killing the project with a 3-3 vote.
Since then, the applicant, Grandview Station LLC, has revised the project in an effort to more closely meet the Olde Town design guidelines, the developer’s attorney said. For instance, the façade on the back of the building, facing 57th Avenue, has been updated to better better attract foot traffic; a pedestrian entrance has been added on that side of the building; a proposed service entrance has been relocated off a public street; and the perimeter of the third floor has been moved inward.
The project was approved on a 5-1 vote, with only Simpson voting no and with Ford recused once again. Mayor Pro Tem Dot Miller and councilmember John Marriott, the only two councilmembers who spoke directly to the motion, both said they believed the latest version of the project fits Olde Town’s design guidelines.
“I agree that on a technical level, this project meets applicable design review guidelines and qualifies for a waiver where appropriate,” Miller said. “I believe this project appropriately maintains the historic character of Olde Town … while at the same time remaining consistent with the city’s goals of economic revitalization, increased investment and increased density in the area.”
The project may be done with review at the city level, but there is one more decision Drienka believes could affect the project’s future. She has appealed to the Jefferson County District Court regarding a variance decision made by the Board of Adjustment to allow for the building to rise three stories in height, she said. That appeal is pending.
“I’m just disappointed with the decision (by council),” Drienka said. “I was really hoping for more respect for historic preservation.”
After council’s vote, Stachelski said the developer must submit finalized documents to the city. The city will then issue a permit to the developer, after which construction can begin.