Thornton to begin acquisition process for contaminated shopping center

Luke Zarzecki
lzarzecki@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 12/31/69

Thornton Development Authority sent Jay Brown, owner of the Thornton Shopping Center, a letter on April 15 saying they will be moving forward with the process to acquire either a parcel or the entire …

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Thornton to begin acquisition process for contaminated shopping center

Posted

Thornton officials are making moves to take over the  Thornton Shopping Center, sending a letter to the building's owner that says the city has begun the process to acquire either a parcel of the property or the entire shopping center. 

The Thornton Development Authority sent Jay Brown, owner of the Thornton Shopping Center, a letter on April 15 saying the City has hired an appraiser to make an offer on the property. If Brown doesn’t accept the offer, the city will begin condemnation proceedings, according to the letter. 

“If a resolution of this matter cannot be reached, the Authority will have no recourse other than to acquire the Property through condemnation proceedings,” the letter says. 

Todd Barnes, a spokesperson for the City, said the Development Authority is acting on the behalf of the city itself.

“City Council and the Thornton Development Authority authorized the TDA to negotiate with the property owner to acquire all or a portion of the Thornton Shopping Center property, and if necessary, initiate condemnation proceedings to acquire all of a portion of the property,” he said. “The TDA’s Notice of Intent to Acquire is consistent with that authorization and identifies the TDA’s intent to acquire the entire property for purposes of carrying out an approved urban renewal project.” 

The Thornton City Council voted unanimously Dec. 14 to move forward with acquiring the Thornton Shopping Center through eminent domain. Eminent domain would give the property to the government with compensation. 

The property has two major problems. First is the contamination of the soil and groundwater with perchloroethylene (PERC), a dry-cleaning chemical. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment enforces the remediation of that chemical.

The second set of issues is structural and aesthetic ones with buildings, parking lots and sidewalks. The city enforces those by issuing municipal code violations.

Jay Brown, the current owner, purchased the property without knowledge of the environmental problems and he claims to lack the funds needed to clean up the mess. Even with a court order directing Brown and his company to clean up the site, a stalemate remained.

Thornton City Councilor Kathy Henson said the letter comes as exciting news.

“It’s the first active step we’ve seen in this manner so we can begin talking about eventual redevelopment there,” she said. “The community has waited a long time for this.”

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