With lots of development on horizon, Granby looks at vision for downtown

Trustees are contemplating how to make Granby more of a destination as development swells along the town’s main street.

US Highway 40, also known as Agate Avenue, stretches five lanes through the middle of Granby and poses a challenge for the town’s walkability and bike-friendliness.

“When we talk about the bigger picture of what we want downtown to look like, right now it’s a highway, and it’s designed to be a highway and to get people quickly moving through our town,” Destination Granby Executive Director Lauren Huber told trustees. “That doesn’t help our businesses. That doesn’t help recruit and bring in new businesses.”

Addressing the town board on Tuesday, Huber explained that when it comes to economic development, good design is key.

Royal Oaks developer Steve Wilkie, who owns three sites along Agate Avenue, agreed that walkability is good for business. He has been in conversations with town staff about his plans for a certain development, which could benefit from a bulbout on the corner.

Bulbouts are extensions to the curb at intersections, which are meant to improve walking for pedestrians by shortening crossing distances and can also slow traffic. Wilkie was wondering if the town might be interested in building a bulbout on the corner of Agate Avenue and Fourth Street across from Azteca.

“The idea here would be, as you drive into Granby, we want people to stop and mill around and shop in the different shops and have coffee or a burger,” Wilkie said. “You know, how do you that? How do you slow people down? I’m a big proponent for bulbouts because I think it can do that.”

Wilkie is in the design stage for two of his more recent acquisitions, including the Granby Market Square project. The developer’s plan is to tear down the half block of property he recently bought between Fourth and Fifth Streets along Agate Avenue, including the liquor store, hair salon and Edward Jones building.

According to a memo the town manager sent trustees, as envisioned, Granby Market Square would include retail, commercial and restaurant spaces, as well as some residence and short-term rental opportunities.

Mark Raeburn of Studio QUAD is designing Granby Market Square and designed the possible blubout. He explained he’s a big proponent of bulbouts from a place-making and public safety standpoint.

“I think it’s a huge direction that the town should be moving in, especially based on the future development that we’re planning on doing in town,” Raeburn said. “I presume (development) is going to continue making this more of a destination mountain town. I think you’re going to end up with a lot more businesses here (and) a lot more people coming here.”

Bulbouts can create issues for town maintenance, especially with snow removal and winter water drainage. Public Works Director Joel Moore cited maintenance challenges with the existing bulbout near Munn Architecture. He emphasized a need for public works to have input on any sort of bulbout designs.

Granby is working on updating its master plan to get a clearer vision of what the town wants to look like in years to come. The plan is about 18 months away from completion and will take lots of community input before it’s finalized, but it could include a push for bulbouts on Granby’s main street.

However, the town board didn’t want to move forward with a bulbout that might not fit Granby’s overarching plan once it’s finalized. Trustees said they would be open to the possibility, but wanted to wait for the new master plan to help drive their decision.

Wilkie was also interested in placing a storm drainage infrastructure cleanout in the town’s right of way, and the board said they would be agreeable to pursuing that.

Wilkie is already working on construction at the Granby Station development at 378 E. Agate Ave. That work could be completed as soon as the third quarter of 2022, according a recent update on Royal Oak’s website.

According to the website, the building closest to Agate Avenue will have retail shops, a restaurant, clock tower and English pub with outdoor seating, along with offices above. Behind that building, Granby Station will have 10 residential units including four paired homes and six townhomes.

Wilkie’s company has also recently purchased the building that houses Destination Granby, and he hinted that he is looking at big changes there as well.

On a different topic Tuesday, Wilkie spoke with trustees about another one of his developments, this one in the Grand Elk area. The town board, sitting as the Grand Elk General Improvement District, owns the land where Wilkie hopes to build a retaining wall for two buildings.

The town board was hesitant to grant this request without guaranteeing that the wall would not inadvertently end up being their responsibility. Ideally, it would end up being conveyed to the Grand Elk Homeowner’s Association, but the HOA is in between lawyers and hesitant to outline agreements with Wilkie until some other issues are resolved.

Most trustees agreed that this seemed the best way to help the project move forward. The board voted to allow the retaining wall to be built with the intention that it would be conveyed upon an agreement, with Trustees Kristie DeLay and Rebecca Quesada opposing.

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