Thornton shopping center aerial view

Thornton Shopping Center Redevelopment

Welcome to the Thornton Shopping Center Redevelopment Page, dedicated to providing useful information relative to the revitalization of this prime redevelopment opportunity. 

SCHEDULE (these dates are subject to change based on unforeseen conditions, but the major tasks and the order in which they will take place are accurate).  

  • Possession awarded:  January 3, 2023
  • Quarterly environmental monitoring:  ongoing
  • Tenant relocations completed: 4th Quarter 2023
  • Asbestos assessments: complete
  • Asbestos abatement :  4th Quarter 2023 – 1st Quarter 2024
  • Demolition: 2nd Quarter 2024
  • Compliance Order on Consent (COC) with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE):  3rd Quarter 2023-2nd Quarter 2024
    • Negotiations completed
    • TDA approval February 13, 2024
    • Draft cleanup workplan: 2nd Quarter 2024
    • Workplan comment period: (community input on cleanup decisions)
  • Source area contaminant extent evaluation: 2nd Quarter 2024
  • Source area contaminant excavation: 3rd Quarter 2024
  • 5-day Commissioner Valuation Trial, Adams County District Court, March 18, 2024
  • Community engagement and reuse planning, EPA Technical Assistance for Brownfields (TAB) program: Begins 2nd Quarter 2024
    • Highest and Best Use Market Study
    • Community Engagement Sessions (includes public input)
    • Council/TDA adopts vision for site
  • Redevelopment request for proposals solicitation to the development community: 4th Quarter 2024 


LATEST NEWS

May 31, 2024:  Remedial Investigation and Corrective Measures Work Plan

May 30, 2024:  Sewer abandonment is expected to be completed this week.  Building demolition should begin on Monday, June 3 on the east side of the complex. 

April 30, 2024:  Public Participation Plan for Environmental Cleanup Decisions

April 19, 2024: 

Last night's community reuse visioning session was a success, with more than 100 in attendance!  Facilitators from KSU's Technical Assistance for Brownfields (TAB) program  and local brownfields planning group Adaapta guided the community through engaging and spirited SWOT analysis and reuse visioning exercises. For those who were unable to attend, a survey will be available on this page soon.  The next step in the community input process is for the TAB team to complete a Highest and Best Use Analysis.  For a complete description of TAB's Scope of Work, click here. 

April 3, 2024:  Litigation Update

On March 22, 2024, the TDA and Thornton, LLC completed a five-day trial before a valuation commission.  The trial was part of the TDA's eminent domain action to acquire the Thornton Shopping Center in order to carry out its urban renewal project.  The purpose of the trial was to determine the "just compensation" the TDA is required to pay to the property owner in exchange for the property.   At trial, the TDA's position was just compensation should be $0 due to extensive environmental contamination of the property.  The property owner's position was just compensation should be $6,340,000.  The valuation commission, comprised of two former state district court judges and a Vice President of a Colorado bank, determined that just compensation was $3,065,067.  The TDA previously paid $2,500,000 as a deposit in the early stages of the eminent domain action.  Over the next several weeks, the TDA will submit payment of the remaining just compensation along with other costs and fees required under state law, and the district court will issue a "Rule and Order" that will be used to transfer title of the Thornton Shopping Center to the TDA.  The TDA began the preliminary work on its urban renewal project in early 2023 after obtaining possession of the property and will continue working toward remediating the environmental contamination and ultimately redeveloping the property.

March 5, 2024 Status Update

Hudspeth continues to abate asbestos within the primary building from west to east and Xcel contractors are slowly deactivating the electrical systems. A demolition permit for the western half of the main structure has been submitted to the State of Colorado, which will be followed by an onsite inspection within the next two weeks, and subsequent approval assuming no issues delay the permit.  Also necessary for demolition, the sanitary sewer line will be sealed at the eastern edge of the property, so the onsite system can be removed during the cleanup phase of the project, later in 2024.  The 5-day valuation trial is scheduled to commence on March 18 at 8:30 a.m. in Division W, Courtroom 507 of the Adams County District Court, located at 1100 Judicial Center Drive, Brighton, CO 80601.

February 13, 2024 Compliance Order on Consent Presentation to TDA

February 2, 2024 Status Update

Thornton Shopping Center Monthly Progress Report to CDPHE

4th Quarter 2023 Quarterly Groundwater Monitoring Report

January 23, 2024 Status Update

Asbestos abatement continues, with Units 8852,8858 and 8866 under active remediation (all units west of this point have been cleared).  Once all abatement is completed, demolition will commence.  Q-1 quarterly groundwater sampling will take place this week, as will completion of the Q-4 2023 report.  Staff will present a quarterly progress update to Council at the February 6 Planning Session.  TDA is scheduled to approve the Compliance Order on Consent (COC) between CDPHE and TDA on February 13; community input on cleanup decisions will be sought for a minimum of 30 days after COC approval.  Community-based site reuse planning is scheduled to commence in April 2024.

January 5, 2024 Status Update

Asbestos abatement within the main building continued, from west to east; units 8804, 8806, 8810, 8820, 8824, 8830, and 8840 have been completed and passed clearances.  Unit 8850 is planned for clearance by Monday (1/8); next week's activities will include abatement of unit 8852.  Our oversight contractor estimates that cold weather is slowing the overall progress slightly.

The Compliance Order on Consent with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is scheduled for TDA approval on February 13, 2024.  At that time, a draft workplan for site cleanup will be posted on this website and the community will be invited to provide comments on the plan for a minimum of 30 days.

Regarding site reuse planning, staff is meeting with representatives of EPA's Technical Assistance for Brownfields team next week to begin framing up a scope of work for their assistance in convening the community.  Check back here soon for more details.


Redevelopment Status

The City of Thornton's Office of Economic Development is responsible for seeking redevelopment opportunities, and brokering deals between 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 order to relocate tenants, demolish the site, and conduct badly needed environmental remediation necessary to set the stage for redevelopment. 

Thornton Development Authority received title to the property in April of 2024 and expects to issue a redevelopment Request for Proposals in late 2024 or early 2025.

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.


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 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 COR000212639.



URA Property Maintenance Code Enforcement Status


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.