By Beth Dodd:
Woodland Park is poised for new growth in 2014. The Woodland Station project is moving forward, a new apartment complex has broken ground, and Tractor Supply Company, a national retail chain, will break ground on a new store in the spring of 2014.
The national retail chain, Tractor Supply Company or TSC, is preparing to break ground on a new 22,000 sq. ft. store that will be located at Hwy 67 and Spruce Haven Drive in Woodland Park. Owner and developer Ray Hix of the Hix Snedeker Companies will be enter into a lease agreement with TSC. The Woodland Park city council has recommended approval of the conditional use permit and site plan for the project, and CDOT has reviewed and approved a traffic study. The building plans are now under review by the fire district.
At present, the nearest Tractor Supply Company Store to Teller County is in Canon City. The national retailer specializes in all things country and should be a good fit for the community. They sell agricultural supplies from fencing to feed as well as western wear, hunting supplies, and pet products. And yes, tractor parts. However, the new store could pose a serious competitive threat to small local businesses like feed stores, gun shops, and western wear stores in Woodland Park, Divide and Florissant.
Several other new developments are in the pipeline for other parts of Woodland Park. Woodland Station is moving closer to becoming a reality as the planning work behind the scenes continues. The owners of Woodland Station Lot #2, Kip Unruh, Arden Wetherford, and Steve Randolph, have requested that the old Amerigas site between Vectra Bank and Bergstrom Park be brought into the Woodland Station overlay district. The Woodland Park DDA recommended approval of the move by the Woodland Park Planning Commission and the city council. The development concept for this part of Woodland Station includes a farmer’s market pavilion, a beer garden, small retail shops, and second story apartments.
Woodland Station Lot #3, the area to the south of the new Woodland Hardware, which hopes to open in February, is being developed by Bob and Carol Korzekwa. The concept for this section of Woodland Station is a family entertainment venue, with a bowling alley, laser tag, and a sports bar. The Korzekwas have completed a feasibility study and are now working on securing funding.
Woodland Country Lodge, owned by Mark Rabaut, has announced plans to expand and redevelop its facility beginning in the fall of 2015, pending a feasibility study. The hotel now has 60 rooms, and 40 more would be built. This would increase the height of the building from two stories to four stories and require an elevator. Nine of these would be two room suites, and eleven rooms would have patios. The plans also include a fitness room and an upstairs lounge. The hotel would also add 35 parking spaces.
Rabaut has requested a TIF, or Tax Increment Funding, from the Woodland Park DDA to help with the project. TIF is a form of tax incentive. In the Woodland Park Downtown Development District, any taxes collected in excess of a baseline amount go to the DDA. The DDA then has the option to refund these monies back to the property owner to help offset the cost of new development. This has already been done for the redevelopment of the Gold Hill Theater, and for the upcoming Trail Ridge Apartments, a 168 unit apartment complex on Sheridan that broke ground in November, and Tractor Supply.
In other business news, the Teller County Assessor will soon be looking at adjusting the taxation on the parking lots in downtown Woodland Park. The parking areas behind the businesses on the north side of Hwy 24 from Pine Street to Fairview Street were developed by the City of Woodland Park in 2001 on privately owned land. The parking was to be free to the public for 15 years in exchange for the land being tax exempt. That 15 year period will end in 2016, and pre-planning is being started to facilitate the transition to a new tax structure.
Woodland Park continues to move forward with its plans to become an official Main Street USA community. Early in 2014 there will be a community assessment in preparation for the next step in developing the program. Woodland Park is also considering forming a Creative Arts District.