City and county officials have decided to move forward with the planning phase of a road extension by Mercy Regional Medical Center that would provide opportunities for more box stores, possibly including a Target.
The city is hoping to at least land one big box, said Greg Hoch, city planning director. Weve heard from our community that theyd like to have a Target in this town, so thats a possibility, but only a possibility.
Development planning for the new retail center is not expected to take place until late spring, Hoch said Tuesday during a joint meeting of La Plata County commissioners and Durango city councilors.
Wilson Gulch Road, which currently dead-ends southwest of the hospital, ultimately will connect to the Bridge to Nowhere at the interchange currently under construction by the Colorado Department of Transportation just north of U.S. Highway 160.
The new extension also will provide faster, stoplight-free access to the hospital to benefit both residential and emergency vehicles.
Although the city has not yet bought the parcel of land upon which the road will be built, negotiations are under way, Hoch said.
Designing the project will cost $500,000 and will be funded jointly by the city and county.
That price tag was a jaw-dropper for recently seated County Commissioner Bobby Lieb.
I am in utter shock that a two-mile stretch of road costs half a million dollars to design, he said. That doesnt even include final construction (documents).
Despite concerns from City Councilor Paul Broderick and others that the proposal could devolve into the plan to nowhere, officials unanimously agreed that the potential payoff in sales-tax revenue which currently is lost to Farmington and Albuquerque is worth the risk.
Before 2008, Lieb said, the city and county didnt need to actively seek out revenue for local communities. But the economic downturn changed that.
County Commissioner Wally White called it an investment in the future.
Growth is going to go that way, he said.
These new retail opportunities will not take away from businesses on Main Avenue, said City Councilor Christina Thompson.
She agreed the goal of developing the new retail center primarily is to stop revenue leakages to Farmington and Albuquerque.
We definitely recognize how much of a gem our downtown is and the special retail that exists there, she said. This is not to compete with our downtown area.
It still is undetermined when the Bridge to Nowhere will connect with U.S. Highway 550 to the south.
A plan that would have had Highway 550 travel over the mesa south of Highway 160 and connect with the new interchange hit a snag when a property owner filed a lawsuit. Though CDOT prevailed in the litigation, the agency still is re-evaluating a final route for the connection.