The Lone Tree City Council broke with a recommendation from staff and unanimously rejected a proposal to build a car wash within a city entertainment district, amid mixed reaction from residents. A …
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The Lone Tree City Council broke with a recommendation from staff and unanimously rejected a proposal to build a car wash within a city entertainment district, amid mixed reaction from residents.
A Living Water Express Car Wash location had been recommended for approval by the planning commission on Dec. 14, although that vote was split 4-2.
A proposed site improvement plan for a 6,096 square-foot building with a 130-foot carwash tunnel, three pay stations and 13 vacuum stations at the corner of South Yosemite Street and Park Meadows Drive. The company would have demolished a vacant Mimi's Café on the site.
The car washes usually feature blue accents, but the company redesigned its proposed Lone Tree location to comply with city design standards. The building would have featured a copper roof, natural stone accents and neutral tones.
“Everyone agrees that this is a beautiful building that we would love to find a home in Lone Tree for,” Mayor Jackie Millet said.
People on both sides of the debate said they liked the proposed building's aesthetic and architecture. Several said Lone Tree could use an express car wash. Location became the sticking point.
Concerned residents and councilmembers worried a car wash does not align with the city's vision for an entertainment district or the comprehensive plan. Surrounding the site are a bank, gas stations and a humming intersection but also restaurants, a theater, and plans to create a community gathering space in the area.
Susan Squyer, a former councilmember and mayor pro tem, had urged council to vote again the site improvement plan.
She envisions that area becoming walkable, with many options for visitors, akin to Boulder's Pearl Street, although Lone Tree's area would require a different layout, she said.
“There's always something for everyone,” she said of the Pearl Street hub in Boulder.
Some worried traffic flow could cause problems, particularly with access to the Park Meadows Mall sometimes clogging Yosemite and residential areas down the street.
“We saw In-and-Out burger disasters,” resident Lili Brown said, referencing long lines seen at the famed burger joint, which opened in February near County Line Road and Chester Street.
Proponents argued the car wash facility would draw people to the area and help support the entertainment district economically.
Lone Tree residents Bob and Cindy Dalton spoke in favor of the project. Bob said its location was on a route he frequently drives. He wants to be able to stay in town to shop and run errands, he said, and a full-service car wash would give him one less reason to leave Lone Tree.
Cindy said that like others she felt hesitant about the project after first learning of it but later “realized how perfect this location really is.” She said she likes to shop local and complete her to-do list in town.
“The one thing we are missing is a car wash,” she said.
Chad Roach, a spokesman for the car wash project, had advocated for the business as being a potential launching pad for the surrounding area.
Research shows people tend to add a car wash to their list of errands like groceries, coffee runs and dining out, he said. The car wash could draw people in before they grabbed a cup of joe or a bite at nearby restaurants.
Roach said the car wash would generate less traffic through the area than the café had and said customers would be encouraged to use routes that avoided driving directly in front of a nearby mixed-use building where a Panera is housed.
Roach said he's not sure what the future of the project will be. The company's car washes need a certain retail environment to be viable, he said, and that finding another location in Lone Tree might be difficult.
Consumer habits are changing, in part because of the pandemic, he said. More than ever consumers need specific reasons to get out of the house, rather than relying on delivery services at home. “A car wash is something you can't do from home,” Roach had told council.
“We would have loved to see the mindset of council adapt to what's going on in retail,” he said.
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