A game of chess is being played over prime real estate in Aurora.
Most of Regatta Plaza, at Parker Road and Interstate 225, was demolished one year ago, but the King Soopers, its gas station and a Key Bank remain.
When the site is redeveloped, the Kings Soopers, its gas station and a Key Bank will remain, but they're supposed to be in different locations.
The "King" in this game of chess is King Soopers. The redevelopment revolves around the grocery store.
Based on an unapologetically honest post on the Next Door website, Aurora city councilman Charlie Richardson suggested the grocery chain isn't going to move.
"As promised here is my update after the Urban Renewal Authority Executive Session earlier this evening. Due to the actions or more accurately the inaction by King Soopers' parent company Kroger the redevelopment of Regatta Plaza is effectively on hold. Because of the fact that information was provided in Executive Session I cannot go into more detail. The turmoil in the retail grocery industry has hit Aurora. Another Executive Session is being scheduled to discuss our options. We will be discussing how we can redevelop the site around the current store. As I have mentioned before it is not feasible to condemn the current store and remove it from the site. I candidly do not believe that writing letters/emails or stopping shopping at the current store will influence the situation. Nevertheless people are certainly entitled to take whatever action they want to take. I realize this news is extremely disappointing."
"I would say it's on hold. That's the best I can do, again, without getting into executive session details," Richardson told Next over the phone while on vacation. "In my opinion, the project is on hold because of the chaos and uncertainty in the retail grocery industry."
Richardson represents the city of Aurora, which is the "Queen" in this chess game. The queen can move anywhere, but would prefer to move forward with the plans for King Soopers to build a new, bigger location near the corner of Peoria Street and Cornell Avenue, along with a gas station on the current Key Bank site, opening up the rest of the property for new residential and office space. The developer has a rendering on its Facebook page of the original conceptual designs.
"Is Kroger in a position to make the capital outlay for the construction of an entirely new store?" asked Richardson.
King Soopers told Next that everything is fine and the grocery store is as close as its been to coming to a new agreement to move locations within the Regatta Plaza footprint.
"The Regatta Plaza redevelopment in Aurora has been complicated. We are pleased with the progress that has been made in recent weeks and have received a defined schedule for the project. King Soopers submitted final site plans last week to the Master Developer and the City and are looking forward to receiving final approvals from all parties.
"King Soopers has a proven track record of making thoughtful investments in our Colorado neighborhoods and we look forward to serving our loyal shoppers in Aurora with a modernized shopping experience in 2019."
King Soopers even submitted an updated site plan to the city last Friday.
King Soopers isn't the only key player in this arrangement. Key Bank has to agree to move to let King Soopers build a new fuel center on the current Key Bank site.
In February, the city council voted to take the property through the use of eminent domain.
"It's my understanding they've indicated that they would like the city to initiate condemnation," said Richardson.
"They have indicated that a private sale is not their preferred option at this time."
The city and Key Bank are still in negotiations for the final sale price.
"There are some tax benefits to entities that are condemned by the government, but I've not had any communication with Key Bank to see if that's their motivation," said Richardson.
The city of Aurora loaned the Aurora Urban Renewal Authority $21.5 million to redevelop Regatta Plaza.
So far, the city said that AURA has spent $18.7 million.
- $15 million to buy the properties not owned by King Soopers or Key Bank
- $3.5 million for design work and remediation
- $200,000 for "other related fees and costs"
That leaves $2.7 million for the Key Bank property.
King Soopers is supposed to build its new store on its own, but then AURA would pay for the demolition of the old location.
There is another executive session meeting scheduled with city council and the developer next Monday.
"We have to assume that one of the scenarios is that the King Soopers is not moved to the new site," said Richardson. "We're going to have to look at our other options, and one of the options is to redevelop the site, to the best of our ability, around the current King Soopers store."
Based on the city's website of the Nine Mile redevelopment, Regatta Plaza will be renamed "The Point at Regatta Plaza," and have more than 500 residential units, 100,000 square feet of retail space and 250,000 square feet of office space.
The "Pawns" in this game of chess are the residents who lived nearby, left to wait for the city, developer and grocery chain to end the stalemate.