Federal Boulevard’s new lane project displaces seven businesses

4 min. read
Federal Boulevard, June 27, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Federal Boulevard, June 27, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

On Federal Boulevard, the difference between keeping your business and moving it can come down to less than 300 feet.

Sure, the new northbound lane planned from West Seventh Avenue to Holden Place may bring more traffic along the corridor. But for Reed Art & Imaging, the Denver project meant losing their front parking to eminent domain. With construction expected to start this fall, they're getting ready to move.

880 Federal Boulevard, June 27, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The building still has street parking spots, says business owner Bob Reed, but with 30 employees, that's not enough. They're moving roughly 4 miles away to 8000 West Colfax Ave.

“Staying was simply not an option. Our customers often need to pick up very valuable large prints, so without on-site parking and with little street parking available, there was no way we could accommodate them safely and conveniently,” Reed said.

Moving will cost thousands for Reed Art & Imaging, at least $25,000 for the move alone.

"There's a lot of hidden costs, there's a lot of things attached to the purchase of the building, plus getting our new building renovated so that we can move into the building," Reed said.

But Reed Art & Imaging is only one one of seven businesses that Denver predicted would be displaced by the Federal Boulevard reconstruction.

Still, not every business along the 0.6 mile stretch was marked for displacement. In fact, the land seized by Denver for this project shaves off pieces of old parcels, leaving some businesses with the ability to stay.

See those skinny little parcels along Federal? That's the land that Denver needed for this project. (Screenshot via Denver Real Property)

To figure out which businesses would be able to stay, the city contracted an independent, CDOT-approved, third-party appraisal, a standard part of the city’s right of way acquisition process.

Those recommendations informed whether a business would still be able to operate or whether a full acquisition of the parcel is required, said Courtney Law, communications director for the Denver department of finance.

Just down the block from Reed Art & Imaging, USA Discount Liquors at 900 Federal Blvd. is one of those businesses planning to stay -- they're just losing their front parking.

Bruce Tran, general manager of USA Discount Liquors, poses for a portrait. 900 Federal Boulevard, June 27, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Losing parking isn't even what bothers general manager Bruce Tran about this project. It's more about the construction and how long it will take.

"With any construction, it's always going to disrupt business, no matter where you're located," he said. "No one wants to sit in traffic just to buy something and then fight traffic back out."

Currently, construction is expected to last until spring 2019, weather permitting, according to the city.

Tran has mixed feelings about the project as a business owner, but as a resident, he's mostly for it:

"If I was just a person who heard about the expansion to Federal, then yeah, I'm all for it. Make the roads better and easier to drive on -- the road here on Federal is horrendous. It makes the neighborhood better and feel nicer to be in," he said.

And in the end, it should be better for business too, according to the city.

"The road widening aspect of the project is intended to create better and safer vehicle and pedestrian traffic flow which should also improve access to businesses along Federal Boulevard," Law said via email.

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