Thornton shopping center aerial view

​Thornton Shopping Center Redevelopment

Updated April 20, 2021

LATEST NEWS

The Municipal Court pretrial hearing (new case filed on February 9, 2021), originally scheduled for April 19, 2019, was continued at the request of the defendant: MTC Thornton LLC 4545137 4.19.21.pdf; the new date will be posted here when available.

The sentencing hearing for code violations has been scheduled for May 12, 2021 at 8:00 a.m. (Case filed July 9, 2020).  For additional information, please visit the Municipal Court’s web page at https://www.thorntonco.gov/government/court/Pages/default.aspx.

Welcome to the Thornton Shopping Center Redevelopment Page, dedicated to providing useful information relative to the revitalization of this long neglected site.  At present, the City of Thornton is trying to find development prospects interested in redeveloping the site, enforce code mandated property repairs through the Municipal Court, and support the State of Colorado's efforts to compel the owner to complete court-ordered environmental cleanup.  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 five 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.

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

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).  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 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 by June 1, 2021, followed by monthly, and then quarterly monitoring to gauge effectiveness.

Source Area Map:


Groundwater Impact Map:


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


Important Developments and Documents

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) 

January 28, 2016:  ASBESTOS SURVEY

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, Code Compliance Division.  Two cases have now been filed in Municipal Court to resolve code violations.

Important Developments and Documents

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.