WESTMINSTER — The Rodeo Market, built at 3915 W. 73rd Ave. in the mid-1940s and home to Westminster’s first grocery store, has been empty for years, and city leaders are now trying to reactivate the site after a plan to bring in a restaurant collapsed in 2021 under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Westminster City Council members, during a study session Monday, were leaning toward instructing economic development department staff to draft a request for proposals seeking a new restaurateur to fill the publicly owned space, which would need to be upgraded by the city to the tune of several million dollars.
Leaders’ second-favorite option was to open up the bidding process to any type of business user, a potentially more-onerous process given that the city has already developed a plan of attack for transforming the space into a restaurant from the failed Olde Westminster Pub and Tavern project there in 2021. Renovating the space for other uses would mean beginning the planning process from scratch.
“It wouldn’t be a fresh start” if the city went back down the restaurant route, Westminster economic resiliency manager Stephanie Troller said.
One option that wasn’t popular: the city selling off the property, which has certain historical-landmark designations that could complicate private redevelopment, and officials washing their hands of the roughly 4,300-square-foot Rodeo Market building.
“There’s been a lot of strong grassroots energy around this project,” Westminster economic development director Lindsey Kimball said. “It’s very important to the community.”
Selling off the property would not only be potentially unpopular, but it would also likely be unprofitable.
“It is kind of a challenging market right now,” Troller said, especially for a property with an appraised value of $0, given the cost of renovating the property would far exceed whatever the sales price might be.
Staff estimate that Westminster taxpayers could be on the hook for between $2.3 million and $2.85 million in improvements to bring Rodeo Market back to life as a restaurant, which the city would serve as landlord, potentially allowing Westminster to to recoup its investment with rental payments and sales tax revenue.
“Although specific restaurant needs will vary based on end user, the estimate reflects the cost to develop a mid- to upper mid-level restaurant, patio area, and kitchen,” a city memo said. “It is also important to note that tenant finishes included in this estimate could be covered and negotiated with a future tenant, potentially bringing the cost down by an approximate $500,000 and the City’s investment closer to $2.3 million.”
A minimalist improvement project that simply creates a building shell where any type of user could move in and make additional industry-specific improvements could cost anywhere from $1.81 million to $2.3 million, staff estimates.