Glenwood downtown business good despite high number of vacancies |

Glenwood downtown business good despite high number of vacancies

John Gardner
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS. Colorado ” Retail space, unlike affordable housing, seems to be in abundance in Downtown Glenwood Springs.

Currently, there are six vacant spaces between 7th and 10th St. on Grand Avenue, one that is the future addition to Juicy Lucy’s Steakhouse on 7th St. between Grand and Cooper Ave., and one building of office space on Cooper Ave. along with another space on the corner of Cooper and 8th St. which has signs that read: “Treadz shoe store coming soon.”

Of the vacant properties, three others have businesses scheduled to open in the near future, like a Rib City on 7th St., while two existing businesses will close soon. Peppo Nino’s Restaurant is for sale and the future of the property is unknown.

But the downtown atmosphere isn’t as bleak as it may appear at first glance according to Department head for the Community Development Department, Andrew McGregor.

“The good news is that three years later (after the opening of Glenwood Meadows) the downtown has not been adversely impacted by the Meadows. And there is still a number of businesses that are thriving,” McGregor said.

But member of the Downtown Business Association (DBA) and manager of the Main Street Gallery on Grand Avenue Nancy Page, says the morale of some downtown business owners is fairly low.

“It’s pretty low,” Page said “That’s not in terms of overall feelings of downtown, but in the past we’ve had 20 or 30 people attend some of the DBA meetings whereas lately it’s been about 10 or 12.”

Page says part of the problem is “less interest” from store owners who spend most of their time working at the business and it’s just more work to be involved with the DBA. She said the city of Glenwood could have better spent money on downtown development.

“There was a lot of money that could have gone to help downtown,” Page said. “But instead the city spends the money on feasibility studies and things like that.”

Longtime business owner, Joan Chaffin, owner of The Mountain Peddler on Grand Ave. said that in her opinion, there is a lot that has changed on Grand Ave. in the nearly 30 years she’s been in business. Highway 82 took the charm out of downtown, in her opinion.

“Look at downtown Carbondale, it’s got a lot of charm,” Chaffin said. “You can walk across the street and all the businesses are exciting little businesses, it’s got a lot of charm. It will be difficult for downtown Glenwood to have that type of charm with Highway 82 running through it.”

Despite issues like lack of parking, traffic, and the vacant spaces, Chaffin did note that downtown still had a lot of positive aspects as well. McGregor agrees with Chaffin that downtown is not in as bad of shape as it may appear.

“We don’t want to have any vacant store front space if at all possible,” McGregor said. “But to say that the vacancies are indicative of an unhealthy downtown is a big leap.”

David Daniels, owner of the old Top Drawer Office Supply Store on Grand Ave. said that his store has been vacant for about a month but he’s received several interested renters for the property.

“I think it’s a great town and it’s got a lot of good retail space,” Daniels said. “And I think it will continue to do so.”

McGregor listed a number of positive improvements happening downtown starting with several of the “older buildings” being renovated and from the municipal side, the Downtown Development Association (DDA) plans for some streetscaping, maintenance of streets and sidewalks and a proposed mix-use development at 7th St. and Colorado Ave. that could include more parking, one additional retail space and affordable housing units.

McGregor said that downtown businesses face the same obstacles other businesses in the valley face as well. He listed the difficulty of finding employees, competitive wages, high traffic, lack of parking, and high rents as contributing factors for the vacancies. But he said there is still potential in the downtown market.

“When people see the vacant store fronts, they think something is wrong,” McGregor said. “We just need to work together as a city organization and businesses to continue to invest in downtown to continue to appeal to the tourists population.”

He said the city of Glenwood plans to spend “hundreds of thousands” of dollars in downtown improvements in the next few years, hopefully helping some of the vacant stores fill up.

This story first appeared in Tuesday’s Inside Business section

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