Wendy’s to improve Rifle gateway
Local organizations and city officials for years have looked to improve the entrance into Rifle. Rifle City Council recently approved a project that it hopes may solve the city’s gateway problems.
Last Wednesday, council approved an agreement with Wendy’s restaurant that will improve the facade and site of the restaurant’s future location in Rifle and dramatically improve the aesthetics of what has been an eyesore for the city for years.
The city will direct $350,000 towards public infrastructure for the site of what will soon be Rifle’s Wendy’s, replacing the Shell gas station at 101 Railroad Ave. and the Phillip 66 gas station on 134 W. Centennial Parkway. The $350,000 will go towards the undergrounding of power lines; paving the alley behind the Wendy’s site; curb, gutter and sidewalk work along Railroad Avenue, Centennial Parkway and West Avenue; landscaping; and approximately 30 public parking spaces on the property.
Rifle Planning Director Nathan Lindquist said fixing up that intersection has been a priority for a long time, and the city wanted to do it with the future owner, so that whatever changes are made are done with the development.
Improving the public infrastructure while at the same time securing a private investment is what really attracted the city, Lindquist said.
City Attorney Jim Neu said Rifle was fortunate to have this timing, because a lot of communities think if you build it they will come, and that’s not always the case.
“I think it’s a win-win,” said council member Joe Elliot. “We get the improved infrastructure and we get redevelopment.”
The city has several different funds it can use to offset the $350,000 it will pay to bring Wendy’s into town.
An agreement with Xcel will allow the city to direct $125,000 to be used to underground power lines. The Xcel Power Line Undergrounding Fund is to be used only for this purpose, and city staff and officials felt these power lines were essential to hide.
In 2014 the Colorado Department of Transportation granted $5.6 million in funds to Rifle as part of the “devolution” of Highway 6 to City Control and Maintenance. The devolution agreement with CDOT mandates that these funds be used for the improvement and maintenance of the Gateway/Downtown corridor. The city plans to use between $175,000 to $225,000 from this fund.
The city may also use money from the urban renewal fund to improve downtown infrastructure. It remains to be seen how much will actually be used from this fund.
City staff elected to support this project for three reasons: the importance of improving Gateway infrastructure; Wendy’s desire to meet the city’s downtown vision through quality architecture, a hidden drive-thru and a Main Street-style building that creates an attractive first impression of Rifle; and the potential for sales tax revenue to payback the city’s investment in four to five years.
On Wednesday, the council approved of the Site Plan Improvements and Redevelopment Agreement in a unanimous vote.
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Grand River Health likely won’t open parts of the new long-term Care Center in Rifle, including the highly specialized memory care unit, until sometime next year.