Olde Town summer street closure plan gets mixed review from businesses

Some praise community benefit, others question limited street access

Casey Van Divier
cvandivier@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 6/3/20

A plan to close some Olde Town streets this summer to help businesses adapt to health restrictions has drawn mixed reactions from local business owners. According to a May 27 release, the Olde Town …

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Olde Town summer street closure plan gets mixed review from businesses

Some praise community benefit, others question limited street access

Posted

A plan to close some Olde Town streets this summer to help businesses adapt to health restrictions has drawn mixed reactions from local business owners.

According to a May 27 release, the Olde Town Arvada Business Improvement District (BID) plans to close Grandview Avenue from Webster Street to Olde Wadsworth Blvd. and sections of Olde Wadsworth Blvd. between Grandview and Grant Place.

With the streets closed to cars, restaurants would be able to expand their patios and businesses could further utilize the space around their storefronts, the release said.

By expanding their spaces, restaurants could seat more customers — a need from many restaurants as the COVID-19 pandemic has led to regulations on how many customers can eat inside a restaurant at one time. As of May 27, that restriction in Colorado was 50% of a restaurant’s capacity or 50 customers, whichever is less.

There isn’t a set date for when the Olde Town street closures might begin but they will last through Labor Day, the release said.

The effort is just one of many ongoing efforts by the Arvada Resiliency Taskforce, which includes the BID and other Arvada organizations, to help businesses recover after the hit they’ve taken during COVID-19.

Emelye Adler, who co-owns Spirits Wine Provisions at 5713 Olde Wadsworth Blvd. with her husband, Casey, noted that while her business’s license wouldn’t allow it to move tastings outside, the two are excited at the prospect of the entire community benefiting from the change.

“What’s good for any business in Olde Town is good for all of us,” she said. “The community in Olde Town has really pulled together. This is just a really great example of all the small projects we’ve been doing together.”

But while the effort has garnered support and was developed based on some business-owners telling the task force what they needed, there have also been several businesses that worry the switch may actually hurt them.

“There’s businesses on my block that are heavily reliant on the traffic on Olde Wadsworth,” said Maro Dimmer, who co-owns Rheinlander Bakery at 5721 Olde Wadsworth Blvd. with her husband, Ed.

Dimmer said she’s worried that the plan, which eliminates the parking spaces in front of her store, will not work for her customers, many of whom are buying big cakes or other products that cannot easily be carried to a parking garage. Further, regular customers who do not live in Arvada may not know the plan is happening and get discouraged from stopping by when they see the closed roads, she said.

The task force has worked so the plan will allow Rheinlander to maintain access to the driveway next to the business, she said. But even so, she estimated that the store will have 5% of its usual street access during the plan.

A better alternative for her and businesses in a similar situation would be to close the streets part-time, for example, after five p.m. or on weekends, she said.

“I understand the community is very excited about having a pedestrian mall,” she said, “but it might be supporting one sector of the economy and killing another. It’s such an issue right when we’re getting back on our feet, to be struck down again not by the pandemic, but our city … I don’t want to go back to the 33% drop in sales.”

Steven Cohen, owner of the Army Navy Surplus store at 5701 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., noted that parking spaces and access is important for his business as well, as street closures have hurt the store in the past.

But he also said that the business is hoping any access concerns won’t be founded and the situation will work out for the best.

“We hope that it helps all businesses,” he said, “without hurting some.”

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