Persistent Walgreens push in 3000 block of avenue

       The future of the north side of the 3000 block of West Colorado Avenue remains up in the air going into the year 2006, as a construction company representing Walgreens continues to pursue the site for a future store.
       Suzanne Duret of Semper Construction in Denver, who has been making offers to commercial property owners in that block, declined comment in a phone interview this week, other than to say “it's something we're working on.” She suggested the newspaper call back in six months.
       The tentative plans call for Walgreens to take over the entire north side of the block between 30th and 31st streets, except for the 7-Eleven on the corner of 30th and Colorado. The scope of the project would include two houses built in 1909 - one at the corner of 31st Street and West Colorado, the other at 31st and West Pikes Peak Avenue (currently part of a restaurant) - plus all the commercial property between 31st Street and the westernmost house on the south side of Pikes Peak Avenue. The Wendy's fast-food restaurant at 3036 W. Colorado Ave. would be relocated, possibly elsewhere in the block, depending on property owners' responses.
       Regarding Wendy's, no formal offer has been made, according to Tom Reinhard, vice president for the ownership of the Colorado Springs Wendy's stores. The Semper proposal was presented to Wendy's, but for now “it's all talk,” he said. “Basically, I said give us a proposal and we'll consider it.”
       Of the four other commercial property owners whose land is desired for the Walgreens plan, one could not be reached and the other three preferred to speak off the record. From these conversations, the Pioneer has learned that two are ready to sell, but nothing has been put in writing as yet.
       Semper has not sought to purchase the four houses on the south side of Pikes Peak Avenue. This is because Walgreens does not need that space for the development, according to sources.
       The uncertainty of the situation displeases Nancy Orner, of 3017 W. Pikes Peak Ave. She and her husband, Eugene Orner, have owned their 1909-built house for 28 years and just spent $25,000 on upgrades. “With this hanging over us, what are we going to do?” she asked. “I figure I bought this house, I'm going to live here till I die, and then this (the Walgreens plan) happens.”
       She is also concerned about her neighbors. On her side of the street are three other houses, built in the years 1901, 1909 and 1939.
       Other than Wendy's, the commercial properties within the project scope are a privately owned optical shop, a parking lot, an office/studio building, two restaurants and a recorded-music shop. The latter business' owners recently bought the house at 31st and Colorado. The most recently built structure in the block is the optical shop - originally an ice cream store in 1983.
       Considering potential impacts on traffic, the adjacent residential area, Westside character and historic preservation - all the houses are within the historic-overlay zone proposed last year by the Organization of Westside Neighbors - the Westside Pioneer asked Colorado Springs lead Westside planner James Mayerl whether the city would consider taking an interest in the matter, instead of waiting until Semper/Walgreen has bought up all the land there.
       In a written response, Mayerl said it is “a difficult thing” to “ 'force the issue' of development before anyone actually even makes a preapplication request. At this point in time, no one has made a preapplication request to me.”
       He added that he “can not really say that a Walgreens would be inappropriate there. There are already commercial uses along that stretch of the street… Is a Wendy's more appropriate than a Walgreens? That would be very difficult for me to say. Now should the design of the Walgreens be modified? The design of the KFC/A&W was, and the neighborhood accepted that. Redevelopment is always tough, but if it does happen then it is our job to make it better.”
       Duret conceded that Walgreens does not always succeed in getting stores in the locations it has targeted, but “it doesn't happen very often,” she added.
       Walgreens separately plans to replace its 31-year-old store at Uintah Gardens with a free-standing store where the Furr's Cafeteria used to be, a company media spokesman has previously said.

Westside Pioneer article