SILT — The town could support a 25,000-square-foot grocery store and if there was a building in place, there are at least two potential grocery stores that would jump at the chance now to open up in Silt, according to Trustee Rick Aluise.
Aluise said that the current board has worked hard together over the past four years negotiating with potential grocers and reviewing economic analysis and market research studies done by two separate companies — one commissioned by the town and the other by one of the grocery stores.
In 2011, the town hired Aurora-based THK Associates Inc., which prepared a “Grocery and Related Retail Market Analysis”. Bella’s Market of Denver hired Perkins Marketing Co. of Minnesota to do its own study as well.
“When we got elected four years ago, one of the things we all wanted to do was focus on economic development and we wanted to get aggressive with it,” Aluise said.
Through the formation of an Urban Renewal Authority (URA) and the granting of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) as a revenue stream, the Dollar General Store was brought to town and has already acted as an “anchor” of sorts, drawing people in and keeping people shopping in the town of Silt.
“Our sales tax has nearly doubled since 2010 — and that’s unheard of,” Aluise said. “But we had to get a business in town that kept people here.”
Everyone agrees a grocery store would be desirable in town, both for local citizens and for the town’s economy.
“The demographics show that Silt could support a 25,000-square-foot grocery store,” Aluise said. “But it might be a second-tier store and not a large supermarket.”
The board worked together to poll 150 grocers and received 4-5 responses — the most promising of which ended up to be La Gree’s of Pueblo and Bella’s Market of Denver.
But the question remained, where would the grocery store go?
Several sites have been looked at and were whittled down to the three most promising.
The THK study reported that given the strong demand for a grocer-related development, only two of the sites under consideration were large enough to support a grocer-anchored retail development and that the 8.9-acre site located on Highway 6 between 10th and 16th (to the northeast of the Silt exit) was “most adequately suited for a grocery anchored development due to its excellent visibility to I-70 and its prime location with proximity to the town’s population.”
However, the study also said that because the site is level with some low-lying areas (wetlands), it would require fill order to alleviate flooding issues.
The Perkins study looked at three sites including the site containing the wetlands (east of 9th Street); a site on Frontage Road & 9th Street (south of Interstate 70 next to the Holiday Inn Express); and on Main Street & 5th Street (west of 9th Street, across from the Dollar Store).
“Each of the three sites has positive attributes, but the best overall and highest volume achiever is [9th and Main Street],” the Perkins study reported. “This is the recommended location for a Silt Supermarket.”
However, while the wetlands was the No. 1 choice, it was also the one that was not the most financially feasible, Aluise said.
“The board felt it was too costly to focus on the wetlands and all the players were comfortable with sites two and three,” he said.
Safeway had originally expressed interest in the wetlands site only, but then dropped out.
As for a pharmacy in town, it was pointed out that La Gree’s and Bella’s both have pharmacies they partner with and would be involved if either store decided to come to Silt.
Along with finding a site, the potential grocers have also indicated that they need a building to lease that they could move right in to.
“They don’t want to build,” Aluise said. “But if we had one available, they’d be here in a heartbeat.”