Rifle resident starts Change.org petition to save 7 small shops in Glenwood
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
When Rifle resident Justin Hughes heard that seven small Glenwood Springs businesses might be removed from their downtown location to make room for a new bank, the U.S. Army veteran began a petition.
“I love Glenwood and all it has to offer, from the small shops to the dining. The downtown is amazing, and I want to keep it that way,” Hughes said of his Change.org petition titled, “Stop ANB Bank From Destroying Our Downtown and Displacing Valuable Local Businesses.”
The petition quickly took off.
Last year, ANB Bank purchased the building at 910 Grand Ave. that consumes about three-quarters of the street block and was built in 1917, according to Garfield County Assessor records.
The financial institution, which has 32 locations — including one in Glenwood Springs — plans to demolish the World War I-era building in early 2020, after the current tenants’ leases expire.
The small businesses that must vacate as a result include KC’s Wing House & Sports Bar, Tesseract Comics & Games, Jewels & Gems, Bellini’s Fashion, CPA Services Pro, Inc., Glenwood Spa N Nails and Glenwood Escape Room.
“When I first heard what was happening, I couldn’t believe it,” Hughes, who completed a tour during the Iraq War, explained. “A town that prides itself on its small businesses was going to allow seven of them to be shut down because a bank wants to build a new office. … I couldn’t just stand by.”
According to Hughes, within 24 hours of creating the petition he noticed that it had already received 1,000 signatures. After 48 hours, roughly 2,000 citizens had given it their John Hancock.
“The response is amazing and gives me hope,” Hughes said of the support that poured in for the affected businesses. “To be clear, I am not against progress or new construction. But, there are more than enough places that would be more appropriate than smack dab in downtown; the main tourist hub where people come to shop and eat.”
However, the city of Glenwood Springs is somewhat limited in what it can and can’t consider and decide on with regards to the building application.
According to a Wednesday news release, the Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission will consider the application at 6 p.m. June 25 at City Hall, 101 Eighth St.
“The Commission will review the application in regards to the city’s development standards only,” the release stated. “Therefore, the appropriateness of the use of the property for a financial institution will not be considered in the Planning and Zoning Commission’s decision making.”
Citizens may also weigh in during the public comment portion of City Council meetings that, unless otherwise noted, occur on the first and third Thursday of each month.
The next regularly scheduled City Council meeting takes place starting at 6:15 p.m. June 6.
“All it takes is one person to stand up for what they believe in. That one act will inspire another and then another,” Hughes said. “That’s exactly what happened here, and it’s really just inspiring.”
The community support was particularly inspiring to Deb Burkholder, who has owned Bellini’s Fashion for the past decade.
“It just speaks volumes,” Burkholder said of the outpouring of local support she had received. “The people that I have been talking to, their first reaction is they’re in shock. Their second reaction is, ‘Why do they need another bank on the town’s main street?’ And, their third reaction is, ‘What can we do to help you?’”
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, ANB Bank said it intends for the new building to enhance the downtown area.
“As a member of the Glenwood Springs community for 29 years, ANB is working to enhance the downtown core through our significant investment in a new, attractive, energy-efficient building that will be additive to the unique character of Glenwood Springs,” the statement read.
“After relocating our branch to the new location, ANB employees, our customers, and office users on the second floor will now all be downtown, further supporting the many downtown Glenwood shops and restaurants.”
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Many members of the community wrote to laud the former Skico executive and city councilman for his friendship, dedication to family and community-minded spirit over more than two decades in Aspen.