Thornton shopping center aerial view


​Thornton Shopping Center Redevelopment

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Thornton Shopping Center Progress Report

31 January 2023

Property Decommissioning Tasks

Eminent Domain:  TDA assumed court-ordered possession on January 3, upon deposit with the court of $2.5 million. The process for obtaining title will conclude with a valuation hearing in 12-18 months.  Legal team is currently identifying candidates for a valuation commission.

Short Term Management:  Economic Development, Legal, Police, Fire and Code staff formed a site safety committee, and we meet biweekly to discuss relevant issues that need attention.  Since TDA is now managing a shopping center, staff is actively securing contracts for snow removal, roof repair, electrical troubleshooting, maintenance management, and site security (fire watch).  Extra effort will target illegal dumping on the site, which has increased exponentially.

Tenant Relocation:  Our relocation consultant, Western States, immediately engaged with 11 tenants and began the relocation process, consistent with TDA policy and the federal Uniform Relocation Act; current vacancy goal is April 30.  Staff is separately negotiating with the Post Office, as its federal status prevents traditional eviction.  Our legal team has drafted new leases to carry tenants through the balance of their tenancy.  Major relocation steps:  Evaluate moving needs; Formal Relocation Determination; 90-day notice to vacate.

Environmental:  Consistent with TDA's letter agreement with CDPHE, our environmental consultant, ERO, has initiated quarterly environmental sampling, disposal of soil and groundwater drums stored within the facility, and compilation of a long-term workplan suitable for incorporation into a consent agreement, currently being negotiated.  Source removal of contamination and installation of a reactive barrier wall for the southeast property boundary will be designed and bid after demolition completion, assuming a consent agreement is in place with CDPHE.

Demolition activities:  While we work on the above elements of site decommissioning, we will contract for an asbestos survey, asbestos abatement bid specifications and award, and building demolition specifications and award.  The buildings will be fenced as soon as tenants have completed their moves.  Goal is to have minimal delay between property vacation and demolition.


January 3, 2023:  Thornton Development Authority assumed immediate posession at approximately 10:00 a.m. on January 3.  Our consultants at Western States Land Services will be working with tenants to provide adequate relocation services, consistent with TDA's Relocation Assistance for Displaced Businesses Policy.  While tenants are relocating, we will begin design work for bidding asbestos abatement, building demolition, and environmental cleanup activities later in 2023.  Check back here for details!

November 22, 2022:  Eminent Domain Update - In Adams County District Court, 17th Judicial District Judge Mark D. Warner awarded Thornton Development Authority Immediate Possession of the Thornton Shopping Center, upon depositing $2.5 million with the court registry, which will likely take place by the end of December 2022.

August 3, 2022:  Eminent Domain Announcement:  On August 1, 2022, the Thornton Development Authority (TDA) filed a Petition in Condemnation in Adams County District Court seeking to condemn the Thornton Shopping Center property.  The Petition was filed after unsuccessful attempts to consensually purchase the property from the property owner.  The Petition is consistent with the TDA's urban renewal plan and pursues its urban renewal project to eliminate blight on the property.  The TDA is in the process of serving the initial paperwork on the property owner and all other named parties and anticipates in the coming weeks or months that the District Court will set a hearing on the TDA's request for immediate possession to allow it to begin its project.   

April 15, 2022:  NOTICE OF INTENT TO ACQUIRE

Earlier this year Council and the Thornton Development Authority (TDA) authorized the TDA to exercise its power of eminent domain, if necessary, to acquire the Thornton Shopping Center property.  This property has a history of soil and groundwater contamination documented by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). The TDA has notified the property owner that it intends to acquire the property consensually, if at all possible and, if not, by condemnation.  The TDA intends to acquire the property for purposes of remediating the environmental contamination consistent with its urban renewal project and under the jurisdiction of the CDPHE, in order to protect public health and safety, and to eventually facilitate redevelopment.  For questions please call 303-538-7390.  


Welcome to the Thornton Shopping Center Redevelopment Page, dedicated to providing useful information relative to the revitalization of this long neglected site.  At the top of this page, you will find the latest news; below you will find narrative and links devoted to redevelopment, environmental cleanup, and code enforcement.

Originally constructed in the late 1950s, Thornton Shopping Center, located at the northeast corner of 88th Avenue and Washington Street, is Thornton's oldest shopping center. It once hosted more than 30 stores, and was the heart of shopping in Thornton. Sadly, the property has fallen into disrepair and blight, and the presence of chemical contamination from historic dry cleaners has made redevelopment difficult.  The City of Thornton is interested in working to create a vastly improved area when redeveloping the site.

Redevelopment Status

The City of Thornton's Office of Economic Development is responsible for seeking redevelopment opportunities, and brokering deals between the property owner, developers, and the City.  The City of Thornton wishes to encourage quality redevelopment of the 15.6-acre site, and has worked with several developers over the years, to create a vision for the site that is both market-based and reflects the needs of stakeholders.  In the past several years, staff shepherded several redevelopment prospects to the site, guided them through various stages of purchase agreements and due diligence, only to watch that interest wane due to the cleanup costs and long-term liability, site financing difficulty, and insufficient return on investment.  Unfortunately, State and federal redevelopment resources (including EPA Browfield Grants) are not typically available for sites under Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) enforcement, nor are liability protection instruments that developers often need in order to commit to redevelopment.  All of this led Thornton Development Authority take the property through eminent domain in 2022, in order to relocate tenants, demolish the site, and conduct badly needed environmental remediation necessary to set the stage for redevelopment. 

The City continues to assemble resources to level the playing field, and stands ready to partner with the private sector to redevelop the site.  The Thornton Shopping Center site is located within the South Thornton Urban Renewal Plan Area, as well as the Opportunity Zone and Enterprise Zone programs.

Current Site Boundaries and Features:


Zoning:  Thornton Shopping Center is currently zoned Community Retail.

Important Developments and Documents

January 11, 2022:  Thornton Development Authority approved a resolution authorizing eminent domain proceedings.  

TDA Meeting Agenda Packet 

December 2, 2021:  CDPHE Response to Mayor's October 11, 2021 Letter

November 12, 2021:  Eminent Domain Public Hearing Notice

October 11, 2021 Letter to Gov. Polis

Thornton Shopping Center Update - part of the October 12, 2021 Thornton City Council Planning Session.



Interview with Chad Howell, Redevelopment Administrator



September 14, 2021: The Thornton Development Authority Blighted Conditions Survey Update was adopted by Resolution  at the September 14, 2021 regular City Council meeting.  

Thornton Shopping Center Update - part of the August 31, 2021 Thornton City Council Planning Session.



Thornton Shopping Center Update - part of the August 17, 2021 Thornton City Council Planning Session.



Welcome to t


April 7, 2021:  Esri Demographic Summary

December 22, 2020:   Corrective Action Plan Memo

December 18, 2020:  The City of Thornton and Thornton Development Authority are taking steps to acquire the Thornton Shopping Center through the power of eminent domain, if necessary, and several contracts are underway to further that effort:

  • New Corrective Action Plan (CAP), including engineers' estimate of probable cost for cleanup and demolition;

  • Eminent Domain Appraisal;

  • Update to the Blighted Conditions Survey for the South Thornton Urban Renewal Area Plan.

In 2019, Thornton Development Authority invested $150,000 into additional environmental investigations, to enable Flywheel Capital to draft alternative Corrective Action Plans for CDPHE consideration.  One of the most important results of those investigations was the compilation of a comprehensive map of groundwater contamination, which can be viewed below.

July 28, 2020: The Thornton Development Authority approved a Resolution authorizing staff to explore acquisition of some or all of the plaza.  

Environmental Cleanup Status


Improper handling of dry cleaning chemicals over several decades has resulted in a release to the subsurface environment and migration off-site to the southeast.  Perchloroethylene (or PERC) is a chlorinated solvent that is heavier than water, and while it may follow the direction of groundwater movement, it also follows fractures in the bedrock.  It only takes a small amount of PERC to ruin a vast area of groundwater, and this volatile compound is very difficult to contain and treat.  However, certain reactive agents can be injected into the subsurface to accelerate the natural decomposition of PERC.  

Enforcement of environmental cleanup is the responsibility of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), Corrective Action Unit, under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). For additional information, please contact Lindsay Murl, Environmental Protection Specialist, at lindsay.murl@state.co.us or 720-644-6314.

 Liability for cleanup runs with the land and attaches to all who acquire the property.  Redevelopment assistance through "Brownfields Redevelopment" programs is typically not available for sites under RCRA enforcement.

For environmental data regarding the Thornton Shopping Center Site, please see CDPHE’s Records Review Page at https://cdphe.colorado.gov/hmwmd-records-review.  For ease in your search, the EPA ID Number for Thornton Shopping Center is 000212639.

The owner of the property, Thornton, LLC, is currently conducting Phase I and II of a state-mandated Corrective Action Plan, which includes injections of BOS-100, a proprietary compound used to break down PERC contamination in the subsurface.  The injections, where indicated on the map below, are expected to be completed in 2021, followed by periodic monitoring to gauge effectiveness.

Source Area Map:


Groundwater Impact Map:


Jan-Jun 2021 Phase I and II Groundwater Treatment Areas:


Important Developments and Documents

March 28, 2022:  Revised Thornton Shopping Center Corrective Action Plan.pdf

March 22, 2022:  CDPHE Report Deficiency Letter

December 17, 2021:  Remedial Measures Implementation Report - Phase I and II Off-Site BOS 100® Injections

October 20, 2021:  Phase II Limited Site Investigation and Resulting Legal Descriptions for Red Parcel and Blue Parcel 

September 3, 2021:  Order Modifying Stipulated Injunction

August 31, 2021:  CDPHE Approval for Phase II Revised Injections

August 27, 2021:  Quantum Environmental Revised Phase II Injection Map 

August 13, 2021:  Quantum Water & Environment Bi-Weekly Status Report

July 30, 2021:  Bi-Weekly Status Report for environmental cleanup activities

June 3, 2021: Order Modifying Stipulated Injunction

May 20, 2021:  Letter from Mayor Kulmann to CDPHE

May 6, 2021:  Revised Compliance Advisory (May 6, 2021) regarding inspection deficiencies

April 8, 2021:  CDPHE Approval of Pre-drill Method for BOS-100 Injections

April 7, 2021: Thornton, LLC Status Report to CDPHE

March 15, 2021:  CDPHE Inspection Report

March 11, 2021:  Emails between CDPHE and Thornton, LLC  Attachment

March 10, 2021: Thornton, LLC Status Report to CDPHE

March 1-4, 2021: E-mails between CDPHE and Thornton, LLC

February 10, 2021: Thornton, LLC Status Update to CDPHE

December 31, 2020:  Thornton, LLC Bi-Weekly Status Update to CDPHE

December 1, 2020:  Court Order Granting Stipulated Injunction

October 15, 2020:CDPHE Response to Owner's Modified Remediation Request

October 06, 2020:Owner's Proposal for Modified Remediation

September 3, 2020:CDPHE Asbestos Inspection Report

August 31, 2020:CDPHE Asbestos Inspection Report

August 17, 2020:CDPHE Corrective Action Compliance Inspection

August 14, 2020:Letter from Governor Polis

July 23, 2020:  The City of Thornton has responded to Jay Brown's letter to Governor Polis.  As a result, CDPHE has responded to the Mayor and will schedule a meeting with City leadership by mid-August 2020.

July 8, 2020: The City of Thornton is drafting a letter to the Governor’s Office in response to Jay Brown’s letter regarding the Thornton Shopping Center.

2019 Site Characterization Data Package

2018 Phase I Environmental Site Assessment

2018 Thornton, LLC Summary (Corrective Action Plan Memo) 

March 5, 2018:  CDPHE Approval of Second Corrective Action Plan Modification Request

November 29, 2017:  Thornton, LLC Second CAP Modification Request

January 28, 2016:  ASBESTOS SURVEY

URA Property Maintenance Code Enforcement Status


Responsibility for enforcing the South Thornton Urban Renewal Area Property Maintenance Code falls on The City of Thornton's City Development Department, Building Inspection Division.  Two cases have now been filed in Municipal Court to resolve code violations.

Important Developments and Documents

February 17, 2022:  Neglected and Derelict Building Notification

September 10, 2021:  Seven code violations observed at the property are as follows:

1. Potholes observed throughout the property, concentrated mostly in areas where the northern structures were demolished, the Corona Apartments driveways and easements, along the south side of property, and at driveways. In violation of TCC Sec. 10-251(b) and 10-251(c).

2. Salon (8948 / 8946) wood-shingled roof is in disrepair with missing, damaged, and rotting shingles. In violation of TCC Sec. 10-253(h).

3. USPS South face wall of loading docks has damaged trim and walls throughout. Requires repairs, patch and paint, and general maintenance throughout. In violation of TCC Sec. 10-253(g).

4. USPS lift gate at southwest corner near the south facing loading docks is rusted and requires scrape and paint for proper surface protection. In violation of TCC Sec. 10-253(c).

5. Two large holes (approximately 4" in diameter) with smaller holes in the rear Southwest (west face) corner brick and masonry of 8850. In violation of TCC Sec. 10-253(g).

6. Missing electrical cover has exposed wires above 8850 rear south exit. In violation of TCC Sec. 10-273(c).

7. West face of red wooden fascia (along rear 8852/811) is damaged with holes and damaged or missing portions throughout. In violation of TCC Sec 10-253(g).

June 30, 2021:  Sentencing Orders from June 30, 2021 Municipal Court Sentencing Hearing:

Summons No. 4545137

Summons No. 4545186

June 9, 2021:  Thornton LLC pled guilty to one charge of 10-251: Sidewalks and Driveways. Sentencing was set on June 30th, 2021, together with Thornton LLC’s other case.

May 12, 2021:  The Sentencing on the Thornton LLC Case (filed 7.9.20) resulted as follows:  Judge Rose imposed a total of $37,100 in fines; he suspended all fines on the condition of compliance. The Review Hearing is set for Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 8:00 a.m. Judge Rose has reserved the right to impose a portion of the suspended fine on the Review date even if the defendant comes into compliance; he has chosen not to do so at this time to allow for compliance. Per the defense, they plan to be in compliance by mid-June, prior to the June 30th Review Hearing.

March 23, 2021:  Response to Citizen Questions Regarding Municipal Court Sentencing for Thornton LLC Code Violations

February 25, 2021:  Thornton, LLC Status Report to CDPHE  Photo 1  Photo 2 Photo 3

January 20, 2021:  The Municipal Court set over sentencing for code compliance violations until May 12, 2021, in order to give the property owner time to correct remaining violations.  Once the exact day and time are scheduled, details will be provided at the top of this page.

November 6, 2020:  Thornton Shopping Center Repair Updates

October 29, 2020:  CDPHE files suit against Thornton, LLC and Jay Brown to compel cleanup, per the approved Corrective Action Plan.  Read the filing here.

August 20, 2020:  In the matter of City of Thornton v. Thornton, LLC and Jay Brown, today (8/20/20) was the first appearance on the summons for Thornton LLC and Jay Brown personally. As is typical, the parties discussed procedural and scheduling issues.  The defense attorneys asked that Jay Brown be dismissed from the case. The City opposed this motion.  The court ordered the defense to submit a motion within ten days to explain its request for dismissing Jay Brown.  After the motion is submitted, the City will have ten days to respond.  The next hearing will be another procedural hearing where the court will rule on the motion to dismiss Jay Brown.  After the court decides the motion, barring any surprises or requests for a delay, Thornton LLC will enter a plea of “guilty” or “not guilty” and set the case for trial if the plea is “not guilty.”  If Jay Brown’s cases are not dismissed, he will also need to enter a plea. 

On-site code enforcement activities continued.  Thornton, LLC's maintenance manager is searching for replacement covers for light post wiring and other exposed electric panels and boxes throughout the property.  He is also working on permitting and contracting for the required plumbing backflow preventers. Reportedly, scraping and painting of light posts is scheduled for this week. 

August 19, 2020:  The Municipal Court hearing on August 20, 2020 is scheduled for 9:00 a.m.  This “First Appearance” is largely procedural, and is not the actual trial. To listen in, citizens are encouraged to call the Municipal Court directly at 720-977-5400 during regular business hours for information on how to observe remote hearings.

August 18, 2020:  During the past week, city staff continued to enforce code compliance, including the need to install backflow preventers in fire suppression systems.  Landscaping and interior clean up continued. The City's Task Force met to discuss an agenda for an upcoming meeting with CDPHE.

August 5, 2020:  Staff held a remote listening session for neighborhood residents and interested parties, where we discussed the status of our efforts to affect positive change at the site. Attendees seemed to appreciate the information exchanged.  A recording of the meeting can be accessed here: https://thorntonco.zoom.us/rec/share/yJBkFevI0WpIf9aO4krlY4wLQqfCT6a8hikW-_cEyE9gZX80jZO5LE00Xu2-i9BU Password: rsAt#c9s.       

 April 30, 2020:  Thornton LLC's Appeal of Notice of Violations

February 20, 2020:  Thornton Shopping Center - 1st Notice of Violations 

History

Groundbreaking for Thornton's first shopping center

Many people turned out to see the groundbreaking of Thornton's first shopping center, at 88th Avenue and Washington Street. The sign announces that an “ultra-modern shopping center is being erected on this strategic site.” The first stores opened at the Thornton Shopping Center in May 1955, and included Woolworth's and Miller's Market.




a photo of Miller's Market from 1950

Miller’s Market was one of the first businesses to open in the Thornton Shopping Center. This 1950s photo shows Miller's Super Market, located in the new Thornton Shopping Center on Washington Street. The supermarket was the first grocery store to open in Thornton, giving local residents the chance to shop for groceries in their own community for the first time.


Wes Brown was one of Thornton's original residents

Wes Brown, one of Thornton’s original residents, welcomes shoppers at the grand opening of Miller’s Market. It was the first grocery store in Thornton, and was located at the Thornton Shopping Center. Today, one of Thornton’s water treatment plants is named after Wes Brown.