Wal-Mart is interested in building a store in Rifle | PostIndependent.com

Wal-Mart is interested in building a store in Rifle

Wal-Mart filed a site plan application with Rifle Friday, ending months of speculation as to whether the retail giant is serious about coming to town.

The application, available for review at town hall, calls for a 107,356-square-foot store, on 17 acres at the east end of a 48-acre site on Interstate 70, being developed by the Ohio-based Rifle Ventures LLC.

Roger Thompson, Wal-Mart’s Real Estate Manager, was not available for comment at his office in Bentonville, Ark.

David Glimcher, a principal partner with Rifle Ventures LLC, was also not available.

Rifle Mayor Pro Tem Joe Clugston said the City Council has negotiated with Wal-Mart through the developers and is taking a wait and see approach before they start figuring out how to spend the extra sales tax dollars a Wal-Mart could produce.

“I’m not jumping up and down, screaming and hollering,” Clugston said. “Never spend money until you have it in hand.”

Clugston said the City Council was told through Rifle Ventures LLC that Wal-Mart’s executive committee makes the final decision on whether or not to build.

“I’m hoping they build in 2003,” Clugston said. “When they start spending money on the site, I’ll believe it.”

A Wal-Mart assistant manager in Glenwood Springs, who declined to give his name, said he hadn’t heard of the company’s plans to open a store in Rifle, or what might happen to the Glenwood Springs store.

“We’ll be the last ones to find out,” he said.

Wal-Mart doesn’t yet have a green light to start moving dirt, but it’s close. Rifle Planning Director Matt Sturgeon said site plan approval is up to the city administration, and after that the company can apply for a building permit.

The Wal-Mart site is on flat pasture land south of I-70, and about a quarter-mile east of Taugenbaugh Boulevard. Sturgeon said site plan considerations include access to the property, landscaping, drainage, set backs, lighting, building height and others.

Wal-Mart hasn’t applied for any variances which would allow them to deviate from codes, “But variances typically come during review,” Sturgeon said.

The property is zoned commercial, which allows for a retail operation. The City Council approved the 48-acre project as a whole in May. Beside the 107,356-square-foot Wal-Mart, approximately 180,000 square feet is designated for other stores.

Rifle City Council members have said they want a big-box retailer such as Wal-Mart to move in to increase the city’s retail sales tax base. For one thing, a Wal-Mart would attract Rifle shoppers, many of whom now spend their money at the Glenwood Springs Wal-Mart and other stores.

A Wal-Mart in Rifle would also attract shoppers from Meeker to the north, New Castle to the east and Parachute and DeBeque to the west, Clugston said. He hopes that those shoppers will also spend money at other stores and businesses while they are in town.

“We want Rifle to be a shopping destination,” Clugston said. “Now, people are leaving town to shop in Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction.”

Sturgeon said the site plan review process typically lasts a few weeks, and after that the building permit review process can add two more weeks.

“So the whole process can take a month or two,” Sturgeon said.

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