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Love's biz plan, city's riverfront hopes in a showdown

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Potential development eyed in spot where hotel, bike trails were envisioned

By Crystal Nelson

BRIGHTON — City officials are keeping an open mind about a new development that could be headed for Brighton’s riverfront.
    Representatives from Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores came before City Council Oct. 8 I inquire about locating a new site in Brighton.
    Real Estate Project Manager Steve Walters said Love’s understands the riverfront ranks high on the city’s development priorities as a potential gateway for the community.

    Walters said Love’s is currently investing in secondary highways, such as Highway 85, and have shrunk their business plan to be a viable place for the community to stop as well. He said they would still be trucker-friendly — with showers and diesel fuel pumps — but also have a retail component.
    “The largest truck stop close to here is Greeley along 85, and that’s 33 miles away,” he said. “So you have all of these trucks zooming through Brighton and, unfortunately, the city isn’t capturing any of that money.”
    Walters said they anticipate the location would generate $1.8 million in inside sales on items such as candy bars and soda. They’re also estimating the sale of 6 million gallons of diesel fuel and 2 million gallons of fuel at the location and hiring 35 to 50 employees, with five to six jobs higher than minimum wage.
    For the project to become viable, Love’s would be paying to get the water and sewer connection to that area of town, as well as development to the necessary side roads and greenery to beautify the project.
    Councilman Rex Bell said he has a dream for that section of town to have a bike trail and a Marriott hotel. He gauged Love’s interest in working along with those potential developments.
    “We work with cities all the time,” Walters said, adding that a hotel is not out of the question. He said Love’s is actually building a hotel in Pecos, Texas, and an apartment complex in Williston, N.D. He also added that Love’s would be amenable to helping construct a bike trail or possibly have bike racks at its facility.
    After questioning from Mayor Pro Tem Wayne Scott, Community Development Director Holly Prather said only the eastern portion of the proposed site is in compliance with the land use code.
    “The concern staff would have is the industrial to the west of the collector street. The comprehensive plan designates that for mixed-use developments and that does not include this industrial designation,” she said.
    Scott suggested another location along Highway 85 for the development, but property owner Mark Campbell said the original site is the only one being considered in Brighton but that other locations in Fort Lupton were also possible.
    “We’re ready to move forward now,” Walters said. “Easily in the next 30 days, I’ll spend $100,000 here in getting soils tested, process time, traffic engineers.”
    Councilwoman Wilma Rose said she’s not opposed to the project either, mainly because the north end of Highway 85 has never been a “scenic view.”
    “I can speak to the fact that we need to improve this area when we look at putting something in,” she said, adding that she would like to see the project strictly monitored from the city’s side to ensure it would be more scenic.
    Councilman Kirby Wallin expressed support for a potential development by Love’s.
    “I can certainly see the strength of the company is something that could inject some much needed capital into that area and make something happen,” he said. “Certainly the riverfront, we have all identified it as a high priority to our community, and I believe that’s because people want to use the riverfront. So I’m very concerned we’re respectful of their desires in making that riverfront side of it a very appealing part of what we dream will happen.”
    Mayor Dick McLean said the concept is a good idea to build upon.
    “When I look at what’s been there – and I’ve been in this town for 40 years – it’s been an eyesore and anything is a whole lot better than what’s there now,” he said.