New Life is Brought to 38th and Wadsworth, Backlash and Turbulence Ensues


Coleman Erickson, Rookie Reporter

To Wheat Ridge natives, the property on the southwest corner of Wadsworth and 38th was the old Go Auto Ford Dealership; however, it has been marked as “Blighted” given the dealership closed its doors nearly eight years ago.

Since then, the property has been in decaying condition, rotting right where its fate was sealed, waiting for a needed face lift. In recent years, the 38th corridor near Wadsworth has seen a renaissance with new shops, cafes, and homes popping up. “We are really trying to give small businesses a place on 38th,” said Debbie Sarcone, a longtime resident of Wheat Ridge, to The Denver Post in 2014. Through all this, the plot of land remained vacant.

With no one to maintain upkeep of the building, it fell victim to intruders, vandals, and general decay. A major concern with the main structures was the presence of asbestos in the walls. Combined with the lack of commitment to progress, the standstill shows no end in sight.

This brings us to the Walmart era. In late 2014, Walmart showed interest in being a part of the redevelopment at the corner of 38th and Wadsworth. For some preface, Walmart in the past has not had great success with opening stores. Moving on from persistent protests in the community and the competition served by a Safeway just catty corner and a soon-to-be Sprouts just down the road on Kipling, Walmart eventually retracted their interest in the site in mid-2016.

With yet again no foreseeable prospects at the site, the neighbors were stuck watching the decaying corpse of a strong symbol of small town might and boldly independent American spirit lose to the sands of time.

Luckily, Corners at Wheat Ridge LLC. took over the property and unveiled plans for a mixed retail/residential space with Lucky’s market as the anchor store instead of Walmart. Many other restraints and shops are expected to follow, as well as an occupant for the residential property on the south end of the lot.

Now that demolition of the old Go Ford is finished, ground has broken, and set to open by spring of 2018, Wheat Ridge no longer has wasted reality sitting vacant. What is important to remember is the quote from Sarcone: is this going to further support small businesses in Wheat Ridge? Or is this no better than Walmart opening a neighborhood store.

An interesting fact to remember is Kroger, the massive conglomerate megalith that owns local grocery chains such as King Soopers and City Market and Safeway’s key competitor, made a deal with Lucky’s Market that gave them a significant percentage stokehold in the small Boulder-based business which allowed them to expand to places such as 38th and Wadsworth.

Whether this leads to impact how the community views Lucky’s is yet to be seen, but the city is holding out for many positive economic and social benefits to Wheat Ridge.