Glenwood Springs retail sales up through first quarter |

Glenwood Springs retail sales up through first quarter

Growth in retail sales for Glenwood Springs slowed some in March, but the city still ended the first quarter of 2016 more than 4.3 percent ahead of last year at this time, according to sales tax statistics through March.

It’s continued good news for a community in the beginning stages of a major bridge construction project and its related traffic disruptions.

That $125.6 million project will continue for the next two years and conclude with a new four-lane bridge connecting Interstate 70 to state Highway 82 and Glenwood Springs’ main drag, Grand Avenue.

According to the March sales tax report, retail stores, restaurants and taxable services saw a 2.8 percent increase in sales activity for the month compared with March 2015.

That increase was smaller, however, than in January or February when sales activity was up 4.9 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively.

Glenwood Springs has seen 26 straight months of gains in retail sales in the month-over-month comparison that includes five years of sales tax data.

Year to date, the city has collected more than $3.7 million in sales taxes on roughly $100 million in retail sales.

The city’s separate 2.5 percent accommodations tax on overnight visitor stays in hotels, motels and other types of lodging was up 6.1 percent in March.

Through the first quarter of the year, the lodging tax is running about 8.5 percent ahead of last year.

Robert Macgregor, president of the Dunrene Real Estate Group that owns the Glenwood Meadows shopping center, said the bridge construction so far has not had a significant impact on people getting to and from the city’s largest retail center.

“I don’t feel like it’s hit us hard yet, but we’re expecting it will be fairly traumatic next year,” Macgregor said of the planned full bridge closure from August to December 2017 when a Highway 82 detour along Midland Avenue will be in place.

That detour could serve as a double-edged sword for the Meadows, he said.

While the detour route will run “thousands of people by our front entrance every day,” in Macgregor’s words, it could also deter people from intentionally going to the Meadows during peak traffic times because of the likelihood of backups.

“We’re just not sure how that will play out,” he said. “I do have to say that they [bridge project officials] are doing a fantastic job of managing the expectations of the moment with the passage of important information. I believe it’s being professionally handled.”

One forthcoming benefit will be the direct Eighth Street connection from downtown to Midland Avenue, which in the interim will serve as part of the detour route. The city also won the green light from the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority last week to build a permanent street connection across the railroad corridor that runs through that area, and is working on the final details of that plan.

In the meantime, the Colorado Department of Transportation is expected to begin construction this summer on the detour route, and the street connection could be in place several months ahead of the detour period.

“We are looking forward to that direct alignment of Eighth Street, which was quite frankly promised to us,” Macgregor said of the original Meadows approvals in the early 2000s.

“That will certainly make the way-finding to the Meadows much easier,” he said. “I’m glad we’re finally getting it on the back of the bridge project.”

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