Town sets up for new development

Approval for 24 commercial units in Pagosa Springs tests demand

Pagosa Springs officials have approved a preliminary plan for a major subdivision with 24 commercial lots east of downtown, but no developer has signed on to the project.

The Mountain Crossing subdivision consists of 300,000 square feet of commercial space on 75 acres on the southeast corner of U.S. Highway 160 and U.S. Highway 84. The plan includes a pedestrian trail through the subdivision and a public gathering space.

The development is currently for sale for $7.1 million, and real estate agent Dawn Traux said she issued a news release with the hope it would generate interest from developers across the Front Range and beyond.

“Getting this far is not cheap,” she said. “We’ve invested a lot to get this far, and we’re trying to make it one of the more attractive projects for a developer, and it doesn’t have to be from the Front Range or local. We’ll take any and all buyers.”

The property has been on the market since 2009.

The space has development rights for 20 years, which used to be enough to attract interest from developers, but “in today’s economy, you have to have the preliminary (plan) done,” Traux said.

“We’re going to go ahead and get the access permitting done, so when the developer comes in all they have to do is figure out the footprint for whatever building they’re going to build,” she said.

Traux hopes to land a big-box store, and said the development would be the perfect location for Walmart should the giant retailer’s Colorado Department of Transportation permit at its current proposed location at U.S. Highway 160 and Alpha Drive does not come to fruition.

No developer has signed on for the project, but Traux said a developer expressed interest in committing if she is able to secure a significant retailer for the location.

“This is the ideal spot for a store like Walmart,” said Muriel Eason, president of the Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation in a news release. “The businesses at Mountain Crossing will have high visibility. The project will bring much-needed commerce to our downtown core, increase sales-tax revenue and provide much-needed jobs.”

But city planner James Dickhoff said a big-box store is not needed, and the town really needs a downtown grocery store after City Market closed the doors on its downtown location about a year-and-a-half ago.

“It was a blow to downtown residents,” he said. “They are older-generation residents, and many don’t have vehicles, so that grocery store they closed was within walking distance to most of the downtown area.”

The Mountain Crossing development has garnered some interest from retailers, but the stores are looking at a number of locations in the city, Dickhoff said. They are also not large retailers such as Walmart or Target.

Dickhoff said he expects the final plan of the development to be phased in over time based on which retailers sign up first and where they want to build.

jdahl@durangoherald.com