Updated analysis: Silt still ripe for future retail businesses | PostIndependent.com

Updated analysis: Silt still ripe for future retail businesses

Ryan Hoffman
This map shows the six sites, with an arrow denoting the recommended site, analyzed in a report on the potential for retail business in Silt.
Town of Silt |

SILT — There is still a “significant” amount of retail potential that, at the moment, is leaking outside of the town, according to an updated draft of a market analysis.

The draft is a revised version of an analysis conducted by THK Associates, Inc., in 2011, intended to determine the feasibility of a grocery store and other retail businesses in Silt — a long running effort in the town of nearly 3,000 people.

Earlier this month, the Silt Urban Renewal Authority (SURA) and board of trustees approved an urban renewal project that included financing plans that would use future increases in sales and property taxes to pay for the construction of infrastructure viewed as necessary for attracting a grocer. In late October, trustees allocated additional money to the town’s general fund, including $7,000 for the revised market analysis.

Among the copious amount of findings in the original 81-page analysis was an indication that “there is significant ‘leakage’ from the town residents, as residents most likely commute to nearby New Castle and Rifle for grocery and other retail purchases.”

Now, a little more than four years later, that finding continues to be the case, Peter Elzi, principal with THK, told trustees Monday.

“The real problem we face in Silt and I think it’s pretty obvious, but I think a document like this helps solidify, is the amount of retail leakage that occurs out of Silt mainly into Glenwood, New Castle and Rifle,” Elzi said.

Silt has approximately 17.9 square feet of retail space per resident, while New Castle has 20.8 and Rifle has 44.5 — both drastically less than the approximately 133.3 square feet of space per person in Glenwood Springs, according to the draft report.

Further, the report states that there is an estimated demand in 2016 for approximately 274,460 square feet of retail space in Silt’s primary trade area, which stretches toward Rifle to the west and New Castle to the east. This is expected to grow to 298,557 square feet in 2020, according to the report, and 329,728 square feet in 2025.

While the population is not nearly large enough for some stores, such as a Home Depot, there are still plenty of retail opportunities that the town is losing to other surrounding cities and towns, Elzi said.

Depending on the type of store, new retail could capture anywhere from 5 percent of the market share for stores such as clothing and furniture, to 70 percent for a grocery store, according to the draft analysis.

A grocery store also could serve as an anchor for a strip-style retail development in the town, Elzi added, especially if it were located at the most desirable of the six sites considered in the analysis.

That 8.91 acre site, located on the south side of Highway 6 and east of the Kum & Go, is owned by the town and is identified in the urban renewal plan as the site for future development.

Since 2011, Silt has seen a sizable increase in retail sales tax revenue — attributed to small gains in the retail sector including attracting the Dollar General. Those revenues have climbed from $381,745 in 2011 to $592,916 in 2014, according to the analysis.

A monthly report presented to trustees Monday shows that sales tax revenues for 2015 are on track to exceed 2014. Year to date collections this year stand at $536,398 compared to $518,422 in 2014.

Despite the improvements over recent years and the relative stability more recently amid a drop in the energy sector, Silt still severely lacks when it comes to capturing sales tax, said Mayor Rick Aluise, who has repeatedly noted that the town’s sales tax revenue is among the lowest in the state.

Prior to the initial analysis, people were “shooting from the hip” when discussing the retail potential in the town, Aluise said. That analysis gave a fact-based illustration as to what the town could support and the updated version shows that there is still a great potential that is being lost.

While efforts have been ongoing since then, the adoption of the urban renewal plan and the revised analysis signify real movement toward bringing more retail to the town, the mayor added. Town officials are in talks with several potential vendors for a grocery store, but since those talks are in the negotiation stage, Aluise said he could not comment on them.

He could not provide a time-line for when an agreement could be reached but said that the town is working hard.

The most noticeable difference in the revised report, Elzi told trustees, is a slight decrease in the projected retail demand, which is due to an higher expectation of household growth than what has actually occurred. Still, there is demand for a grocery store and certain retail development, he added.

Trustees will review the document and submit suggestions to THK, before the document likely reappears before the board for adoption in December.

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