A Subaru dealership will likely be the first business to move into a 22-acre subdivision under construction near Three Springs south of Wilson Gulch Road, an area long envisioned as a new commercial center in Durango.
Wilson Gulch Road, a ¾-mile connection between the Grandview Interchange and Mercy Regional Medical Center, was finished in 2016 and has yet to see much development. The city of Durango, La Plata County and Colorado Department of Transportation spent $9.8 million on the road, expecting a revenue-making shopping center.
Councilor Chris Bettin said the subdivision, Three Springs Crossing, would fulfill the original vision for the road.
“I am glad we are seeing that come to fruition in a visible way,” he said.
Shops along Wilson Gulch Road might gain visibility when U.S. Highway 550 connects to the Grandview Interchange, he said. Work on the realignment of Highway 550 is expected to start this spring and could take up to three years, according to CDOT.
However, Wilson Gulch Road might not host big-box retailers as originally envisioned because the real estate market has changed since the area was planned, he said.
“I am sure people had dreams of Target and those kinds of major big-box retailers,” he said.
Instead, the area could see niche retail stores, Bettin said.
The subdivision is preparing for businesses such as large retail shops, grocery stores, a hardware store, restaurants and banks, said Gary Whalen, a vice president of GF Properties Group, which developed the subdivision. GF Properties Group is a subsidiary of the Growth Fund, a company owned by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.
Infrastructure for the development is expected to be finished in late summer, Whalen said in an email to The Durango Herald.
Plans approved by the Durango City Council in June show the Growth Fund expects to extend East Owen Road, Ewing Mesa Road and High Llama Lane into the new subdivision.
East Owen Road would provide a connection between Wilson Gulch Road and other commercial shops currently accessible only from U.S. Highway 160, such as Southwest Appliance.
Developers also plan to build an east-west road that will bisect the parcel. The lots in the new subdivision range from 1.18 acres to almost 9 acres, city documents show.
Morehart Murphy Subaru plans to move into the northeast corner of the subdivision, city documents show. Plans for the dealership approved by the planning commission show a two-story, 25,660-square-foot building surrounded by parking and landscaping, possibly featuring 64 new trees and 88 shrubs.
The commission has not yet granted Morehart Murphy a building permit, said Nicol Killian, assistant director of the city’s Community Development Department.
Dealership President Jim Morehart declined to comment for this story.
Planning Commission Chairman Joe Lewandowksi said Wilson Gulch Road was a logical place for a car dealership and similar businesses that require high visibility.
“It’s encouraging to see some things start to go in out there,” he said.