Carbondale hears Home Depot presentation
CARBONDALE ” Citizens and town trustees heard a presentation Tuesday night from representatives of Home Depot who said the large home improvement retailer could bring in significantly more retail sales tax revenues than other options for the Crystal River Marketplace site.
The 24-acre site, located off of Highway 133 in Carbondale, has been the subject of debate for years as Carbondale citizens have been divided over what type of development would fit there.
Rich Schierburg of Peregrine Development Group, the potential developer of the site, brought Home Depot representatives to a community meeting at Carbondale Town Hall where more than 100 people gathered to see what the chain had to offer.
Schierburg has worked with the town for about 14 months trying to figure out a development plan for the site that works for him and the town.
He said the town has to decide how much revenue it needs from the site, which the largest commercially zoned property left in town. If the Home Depot plan, which is called Option 3, is denied, Schierburg said he would develop the site with the more residentially focused plan (Option B) that the town’s Economic Roadmap Group had recommended.
The Roadmap Group’s “preferred development option,” or Option 1, has not proven to be feasible from a market perspective, he maintained. That plan included three junior anchors, and Schierburg said none of those types of chains have shown interest in the site.
According to Schierburg’s presentation, Option 3 would bring in about $1.2 million in new sales tax revenues to the town. Option 2 would bring in somewhere around $600,000 a year.
“I’m not here to tell you if you need $600,000 a year or $1.2 million a year,” said Schierburg. “You’ve got to decide if that extra $600,000 is important. Once that land is gone to another use, it’s gone.”
Home Depot’s director of real estate, James Spitzer, fielded a variety of questions after the presentation from the public, ranging from how the chain could address the carbon emissions that would come from all of the people driving to shop there, to how the store could possibly find up to 150 employees.
“There isn’t a job shortage here, there’s an employee shortage,” said Carbondale resident and Roadmap Group co-chair Ro Mead.
Spitzer, who came in from Seattle, Wash., said he knew it would be a challenge to locate in Carbondale. But, he said, market studies show it’s feasible and a better location than Rifle at this point.
He also said the company is willing to invest in affordable housing, make the store as “green” as possible and address any other concerns of the community regarding the scale and aesthetics of the building.
Home Depot has contracted the services of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), based in Old Snowmass, to try to come up with a “green” design for the building. RMI representative Steve Brauneis said the Carbondale store could be the “flagship green store for Home Depot.” But, he added, “I wouldn’t want to sell the project to the community on that promise.”
Home Depot said it would build an 88,000 square foot store with a 20,000 square foot garden center, which is smaller than their typical store. The Roadmap Group had recommended a ban on stores over 60,000 square feet.
“If given the opportunity to built here, we feel like we have it down to a science and we’re ready and willing to take advantage of it,” said Spitzer.
Trustees made no decisions Tuesday, but plan to compile a list of followup questions to forward to the developer and Home Depot. The town board will likely give Schierburg some direction in the next 30 to 45 days, and at that point he will have the option to file a formal development application.
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