40 years of retail history reduced to dust
As Van Rand Shopping Center business owners looked on and wondered how the Glenwood Springs High School construction would impact their bottom lines, 40 years of retail history came crashing to the ground. Two track hoes clawed into the empty hulk of the True Value building at 1525 Grand Ave., erasing forever a prominent symbol of Glenwood Springs retail from the briskly-changing face of the city. Within two years, high school kids will be attending class where the old grocery and hardware store once stood. Constructed in one of Safeway’s bygone architectural styles that can still be found housing other stores scattered in cities from Montrose to Albuquerque, Safeway spokesman Jeff Stroh said the grocer opened the building on May 25, 1966.Glenwood residents shopped there until Safeway opened in what is now the American Furniture Warehouse building on South Glen Avenue on May 17, 1986. True Value opened in the Grand Avenue building later that year, and Safeway disappeared from Glenwood 10 months later, only to take over a Smith’s Food and Drug store at its present location in 1990. And like the shifting locations of grocery stores and population growth throughout the region, change is inevitable.
As Glenwood Springs High School begins its own era of drastic change, business owners at the Van Rand Shopping Center who will see the construction through their front windows expressed optimism, concern and confusion Friday.”We don’t know from the school district exactly what’s happening,” said Susie Straus, co-owner of PrintWorks. Customers, she said, say that they’re concerned about parking lot access to the Van Rand Shopping Center and are afraid Roaring Fork School District Re-1 will take over the center just as it seized the True Value property. “If they can’t get in here, it (business) will drop dramatically,” she said. “Everybody is so confused as to what is actually being built there.”Julie Nesbit, Straus’ sister and PrintWorks co-owner, shares her concern. “What’s going to happen to us – are they going to tear us down next?” Nesbit said. Here are the facts about the high school project, in a nutshell: The high school building will be built where the True Value building was, and will extend toward Grand Avenue so that it will be flush with the mid-point of the Bray Realty building next door, said RFSD Superintendent Fred Wall. There will be some visitor parking between the school building and Grand Avenue, he said, but the main parking lot will remain adjacent to 14th Street. The stoplight that controlled traffic into the True Value parking lot will likely soon disappear, he said. What’s more, Wall said, RFSD has no intention to ever expand south of the high school’s new footprint, and the district has no plans to expand onto or to seize the Van Rand property.
RFSD school board chairman Michael Bair said that if Glenwood Springs outgrows the high school many years from now, a new school would have to be built elsewhere because the new school’s footprint only allows for minimal expansion. “We’re well within a 10 year framework of that high school being well more than adequate,” Bair said. To quell concerns about parking at the Van Rand center, RFSD will set up a meeting with business owners there to talk to them about parking issues during the school’s construction, Wall said. A date has not been set. “We do not want to impact the Van Rand building,” he said.Other businesses at the Van Rand center are optimistic that the construction impact will be minimal and business will either return to normal or improve after the high school is complete. “I think it will impact business in a positive way,” said Frank Schiavone, owner of Russo’s Pizza. “Once the high school is expanded and there’s more students, it will certainly help the lunch crowd here.”Richard Macgregor, manager of Sandy’s Office Supply, said he expects the construction to disrupt business “a little.””I wish they’d never torn it down,” he said of the True Value building. “It saved me many times. Now, with the Lowe’s on the other side of town, it’s not as convenient, not even close.”
Little can be done to reverse the past, he said. “It’s called progress, I believe.” At Spear’s Flowers ‘n’ Such, flower designer Danielle Knuppel said she believes customers will still be able to easily access the shopping center during construction, but the loss of the True Value could hurt business “a little bit.” “Sometimes shoppers will go to True Value and over to the flower shop next door,” she said. Straus said the True Value store demolition Friday was like “an earthquake,” and the project is already affecting business because people are confused about the construction. “80 percent of our customers that walk through that door, we’re spending time talking about that project, which is only going to get worse as it’s now starting to be demolished,” she said. Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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