The grocer is the first business to sign a contract with the redevelopment project The Corners at Wheat Ridge, which aims to open phase one in the spring of 2018 at the southwest corner of Wadsworth Boulevard and West 38th Avenue, according to a statement from the grocer.
“We’ve been working on the entire project for well over six years now and this is just one fantastic increment,” said Steve Art, Wheat Ridge economic development manager.
The coming 35,000-square foot Lucky’s Market will offer local, natural and organic food as well as conventional staples, such as Campbell’s soup and Coca-Cola. The grocer is also touting in-house smoked bacon, a full bakery, a cafe and an apothecary.
The store will employ roughly 150 people, growing Lucky’s Market’s employment base in Colorado to about 550 people. The chain, which has 24 stores nationwide, was started by former chefs Bo and Trish Sharon in 2003. It’s other Colorado locations are in south Boulder, north Boulder and Longmont.
The company last year received a “meaningful investment” from King Soopers’ parent Kroger in a deal that gave Lucky’s Market cash to expand more rapidly.
Site developer Quadrant Properties Colorado President Bob Turner said Lucky’s Market is a unique grocery that offers an exciting shopping experience. As the only metro area outlet, he expects the store to attract people from surrounding cities, including Denver, Arvada, Lakewood and Golden, giving the site legs to stand on.
With Lucky’s Market as its anchor, The Corners will host an additional 40,000 square feet of other retail shops and restaurants, a pocket park, a plaza and a 230-unit residential community, which will include amenities such as electric car charging stations, pet washing areas and an outdoor pool. Turner said the project’s total value is about $75 million.
The Corners is talking with other retail and restaurants but has not finalized deals yet, Turner said. Art mentioned that he could see potential restaurants along the likes of Toyko Joe’s and Tavern.
“This is, I think, the most important infill development project in the city of Wheat Ridge,” Turner said. “It sits at a corner that’s traveled by about 70,000 cars a day and it sits seven blocks, eight blocks away from Wheat Ridge City Hall.”
The site has gone through a roller coaster ride to get to this stage.
The lot had been home to a car dealership for quite some time, eventually closing in 2008, Art said. Two years later, Wheat Ridge started searching for a developer, eventually landing on Quadrant Properties Colorado in 2012.
The land had a significant amount of contamination as all buildings had asbestos, Art said. To offset remediation and public improvement costs, Quadrant was awarded a $6.2 million tax-increment financing package.
Walmart had previously eyed The Corners but the potential anchor store was received poorly by some neighbors, who launched a website and online petition against the store in 2014.
During the backlash, citizens passed a local ballot measure that requires any tax-increment financing package over $2.5 million to be voted on by Wheat Ridge residents. The measure was retroactive, meaning residents could vote on Quadrant’s $6.2 million TIF package.
Quadrant sued Wheat Ridge and the Urban Renewal Authority in January 2016, successfully arguing that a section in the Colorado Constitution that prohibits retroactive laws at the state level also applies to local governments and voter-passed initiatives.
Walmart pulled out in July, saying in a statement that the decision was based on the company’s long-term strategic goals.
With the lot’s nearly 14 acres, Turner said a grocery is a natural fit, which the property now has with Lucky’s Market signing on.
“(The Corners is) going to be a great addition to our community,” Art said. “It’s a site that has sat empty for almost 10 years. Bringing new shopping to our community is a fantastic opportunity.”