Carbondale landlord willing to work with FedEx | AspenTimes.com

Carbondale landlord willing to work with FedEx

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

FedEx Ground currently operates its sorting and distribution center at the Carbondale Industrial Park. Plans for a controversial new facility that was approved by Garfield County commissioners near the Glenwood Springs Airport last year are now on hold after the most recent application was withdrawn this week.

The Carbondale property owner who serves as landlord for FedEx's current Roaring Fork Valley package-distribution center says he's still willing to work with the company to expand on the site if given the chance.

So far, though, FedEx seems intent on moving forward with its plans to build a new 27,000-square-foot facility on a controversial piece of property near the Glenwood Springs city airport. Glenwood officials have opposed the location in the face of Garfield County's approval of the plans.

The Glenwood City Council on Thursday reiterated concerns that the county approved the project against the city's objections related to increased traffic and impacts on the one and only route along South Midland Avenue that leads to the site, and which is in need of major repairs.

The council is still hoping to convince FedEx to look at other locations and will meet Monday to decide whether to change its mind on taking $585,000 for road improvements that was included as one of the county's conditions of approval.

County commissioners also are set to decide Monday whether to allow FedEx to proceed with its development plans, with or without the money changing hands.

Short of continuing to look at other suitable locations in the Glenwood area, though, if FedEx is willing to consider staying put, its Carbondale landlord says he's ready to work a deal.

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"We have the wherewithal here to allow them to expand on this property and to continue to operate here while a new building is being built," said longtime Carbondale businessman John Foulkrod, one of the partners in the C'dale LLC Industrial Park between Fourth and Eighth streets, where FedEx currently operates on about a 1.25-acre site.

Foulkrod said FedEx signed a two-year lease extension for that space right around the time the county commissioners approved plans for the new location.

But with only two long-term lease holders on the site, and the Ross Montessori School that uses part of the property preparing to build a new school elsewhere, there's some wiggle room to make it work, Foulkrod said.

"All they would need to build their facility here is a building permit, because it's a use-by-right," he said.

Foulkrod said he had indicated several years ago when a residential and mixed-use development was proposed for the site that FedEx would need to move if the project was approved. But those plans were scrapped in the middle of the review process, and Foulkrod said he and his partners are committed to retaining the industrial-park zoning.

FedEx also had said that the school poses a concern because delivery trucks must now cross a pedestrian and bike path that's full of students going to and from school twice a day.

"They're moving now, so that's not going to be an issue," Foulkrod said of Ross's recent purchase of a site elsewhere in Carbondale to build its new school.

Another concern has been the access to the Carbondale site, which passes by numerous homes on the way to and from Highway 133.

Foulkrod noted the town is still working toward building a more direct connection from Eighth Street to Highway 133 via Industry Place, which now stops at the Rio Grande Trail crossing.

"There are some politics with that, but it's not insurmountable," Foulkrod said.

A FedEx representative told county commissioners at a meeting earlier this week that the company would prefer not to have delivery vans and the larger transport trucks passing through residential neighborhoods.

"We did look at several other sites, and all of them have challenges," FedEx official Andy Henry said at that meeting.

Another representative for the company, Kevin Kiernan, said the South Glenwood location works better despite the access issues and poor roads in that area. Kiernan said FedEx is prepared to operate the facility at the 9-acre site with or without road improvements.

The $585,000 offered to the city is intended to pay for a 2-inch asphalt overlay on Airport Road, where the old asphalt surface has deteriorated to the point where it's essentially a gravel road.

City officials have identified between $15 million and $20 million in necessary improvements to Midland Avenue and the 27th Street bridge.

Airport Road is also a key component of the future South Bridge connection across the Roaring Fork River to Highway 82 south of the airport. However, that project has an estimated $40 million price tag and no identified funding source.

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