KFC/A&W plan spurs neighborhood questions
Owners tout property upgrade, revenue boost; residents unsure about signs, compatibility

       The corporate owners of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) have proposed a new restaurant, combined with an A&W fast food store, in place of the current KFC at 31st Street and Colorado Avenue.
       The development plan calls for a larger store - although the seating capacity would not change - and two 40-foot tall signs on poles outside the restaurant. The new building, surrounded by upgraded landscaping, would be “superior to the existing building in durability and appearance (and) bring additional people and revenue to the area,” according to a written justification to City Planning by Steve Brown of Near Design & Planning, which created the plan for the KFC owners, Harman Management Corp.
       A neighborhood meeting on the proposal is planned for later this month, probably March 29 or 30. A meeting had been set for next week until Brown learned that Harman representatives could not be in town then.
       Neighborhood concerns that have surfaced so far regard signage, lighting, traffic and historical compatibility. A homeowner who lives directly across Colorado Avenue from KFC wrote an e-mail to City Planning that reads, in part, “I would like the view to improve, not get worse. I'm given to understand they're planning a giant sign on a 40-foot pole that will blot out the sun. I don't want this. Please don't let it happen.”
       Bob Kliewer of the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) said he has “gotten a couple of calls from neighbors about lighting and another about traffic.” An issue of light reflecting from a business back on adjacent houses at night had also come up when Starbucks opened last year at the northwest corner of 31st and Colorado, Kliewer said.
       Another OWN board member, Dave Hughes, raised the question of historic compatibility at an OWN meeting where the matter was discussed Feb. 24. Five houses in the 3100 block of Colorado Avenue - across the street from the Red Rock center - were built in the late 1800s. “If we're going to get serious about historic preservation, we should lobby them (the city and developer) to make it (KFC) compatible,” said Hughes, who is also on the board of the Old Colorado City Historical Society.
       James Mayerl, the chief planner for the Westside, is still reviewing the plan, so he has no recommendation yet, he told the Westside Pioneer this week. However, he questioned how much the city can ask KFC to redesign its building, simply because some historic houses are across the street. Asked if this was not basically what took place with the Cunninghams' recent office dev-elopment in the 1000 block of the avenue. Mayerl responded that the 1000 block “is in a very different neighborhood, closer to the downtown. By the time you get to this section (of the avenue), it's pretty auto-oriented and more suburban.” At the same time, he added, “We don't have to approve everything they have.”
       Brown said the appearance of the KFC stores has improved in recent years, and “this is a newer, more muted design.” As to whether the design could be altered for even greater compatibility, he said, “It depends on the comments we get. Potentially my client could work with that.”
       The current KFC has been there at least since 1990, but not even Harman knows the exact date it opened, Brown said. He conceded that the store and the surrounding lot are not highly attractive at this time. “We're hoping that adding the A&W and totally renovating that site will be a better pull for the store,” he said.
       Several city departments have provided written comments on the proposal to date. Potentially the most impactful is Transportation Planning's recommendation to eliminate KFC's main driveway access from Colorado Avenue and instead - for safety reasons - widen the avenue there about 12 feet for a right-turn deceleration lane
       Asked whether this would be agreeable to the developer, Brown said he and Harman representatives need time to consider the proposal along with other comments from the city.
       Other city comments to date (not all are yet in) include recommendations for a sidewalk on KFC's frontage along 31st Street (currently there is none) and space for the Midland Trail along Fountain Creek at the rear of the property.
       The new building would be 3,500 square feet in size. This is about 10 percent larger than the current restaurant, “but most of the square footage would be in the kitchen,” according to an e-mail from Brown to the city. The added kitchen space would help accommodate the A&W restaurant. The current store seats 70 to 75 people; the new one would seat 72.
       Currently, the nearest KFC with an A&W is north of Garden of the Gods Road on Centennial Boulevard.

Westside Pioneer article