Wheat Ridge's 2018 Year in Review

Staff report
Posted 12/31/18

The year 2018 looks like one of progress for the city of Wheat Ridge. It was largely a year of moving towards a new future after the turmoil, both from Mother Nature and from the passing of beloved …

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Wheat Ridge's 2018 Year in Review

Posted

The year 2018 looks like one of progress for the city of Wheat Ridge. It was largely a year of moving towards a new future after the turmoil, both from Mother Nature and from the passing of beloved community figures like former mayor Hank Stites and newsman John Tracy.

Here are just some of the stories and moments worth mentioning when looking back on the year that was.

Pennington rebooted

An old school started be teaching students some new tricks this year. Pennington Elementary School, 4617 Independence St., became an expeditionary learning (EL) school for the 2018-19 school year.

The EL instructional model uses “project-based learning expeditions” to get students engaged in interdisciplinary, in-depth study of compelling topics, in groups and in their community.

“We’re excited about this at Pennington because we believe it will build on some of the current structures that are there,” said Karen Quanbeck, Jeffco schools’ chief of schools for elementary at the time of launch.

A new mayor

This November, Wheat Ridge Mayor Joyce Jay, who had been on the city council since 2009, and mayor since 2013, was term limited, and stepped down.

Her successor, elected by voters in 2017 was Bud Starker.

The carpenter, restaurant owner, and now mayor said that his political science degree from CU Boulder, and his childhood growing up in some overseas locations as an Air Force brat helped give him a strong background for understanding the different ways in which people can work together.

When asked about what he specifically could bring to city council, he said his background in construction and construction management would hopefully be useful.

“I’m hoping we can really shape projects that are the types that people want, with top quality design, good materials,” Starker said. “I hope they seem forward thinking, that in 30,40, 50 years from now people look at them and say, ‘those were good projects. I’m glad we invested in the community to build those.’”

Hailstorm aftereffects

The repercussions of the May 8, 2017 hailstorm was still being felt into 2018. Some repair work, and insurance hassles lingered, as did the financial impact of so many homes, vehicles and yards being damaged. Nearby Colorado Mills is even now still trying to reopen certain storefronts that were closed due to storm damage.

The Corners opens

After the redevelopment work kicked off in 2017 — The Corners mixed-use development, at Wadsworth and 38th Avenue, saw its anchor tenant, Lucky’s Market, open in August. Other businesses, including Tokyo Joes soon followed. The housing component of the development — 230 apartment units — is currently under construction. The developer says he anticipates the public plaza and greenspace to be among the last components of the project to open, likely in 2019.

Another large-scale and long-languishing development site moved closer to reality this year. The Clear Creek Crossing development, southwest of the Hwy. 58 and I-70 junction, saw its development plan take a more definitive shape, as infrastructure and grading work have begun on the site.

The land is intended to be a mixed use area including “a wide range of uses, including retail, hotel, multifamily residential and employment,” according to the developer’s website, though specific development plans have yet to be approved by the city.

The same cannot be said for the G Line. The commuter rail line remains in regulatory limbo thanks to problems with RTD’s crossing gate technology. Unsurprisingly, the nearby Transit Oriented Development area Wheat Ridge has been hoping to turn into an outdoors industry hub has not yet taken off either.

RTD hopes to open the G Line in the first few months of 2019.

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