Centennial Alfalfa's Market timeline unclear

Opening of grocer that secured tax rebate from city still in works

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Plans to remake a vacant big-box store in Centennial as an organic, local-minded grocer still have yet to hit the construction stage, and when the project will move forward is unclear.

“Alfalfa's Market remains committed to the site located at 8101 S. Quebec St. in Centennial,” Troy Smith, Alfalfa's development director, said in a statement. “We continue to assess costs, design and the timeframe for this project. I know people are looking forward to Alfalfa's coming into their neighborhood, and we are being very diligent with our store layout and design.”

The Boulder-based grocer, whose two locations sit in that city and nearby Louisville, would break into the Denver metro area market at the south edge of Centennial near the Willow Creek neighborhood.

“As Alfalfa's expands into new markets, we want to ensure that our customers receive the best locally owned, organic and sustainable shopping experience,” Smith said.

The grocery store, whose website touts its support of “innovative food, wellness products and culinary creations,” could revamp the former U.S. Toy building on South Quebec Street near East County Line Road. The property sold for $4.2 million, according to county assessor data, in May 2018.

Shortly after, Centennial City Council approved a plan that June to give the store a $500,000 sales tax rebate, paid over a maximum of 10 years. The move is part of the city's “Retail Reinvestment Strategy,” a general pivot toward recognizing the trend of experiential uses. That's a term for services, such as restaurant dining, that consumers can't get online.

Quebec Alfalfas LLC, the entity that owns the property, is registered to Mark Homlish, according to Colorado Secretary of State records. Homlish did not respond for comment on the project's timeline.

Timing has been delayed by Alfalfa's, “but the building owner (has) noted they are committed to the project,” said Allison Wittern, city spokeswoman.

The city's agreement based on the sales tax rebate is still in effect, Wittern said. It's an effort to help fill a vacant space with “a unique retailer that fills a neighborhood need and brings renewed retailer and consumer interest to the area, which can benefit the surrounding community, businesses and shopping centers,” Wittern said.

The city expects to gain in sales- and property-tax revenue and attract grocery spending from non-Centennial residents, a report by city staff said.

The tax rebate the city promised isn't free money — Alfalfa's would be required to remodel the building's exterior much more thoroughly and according to its proposed design.

The project would remodel a roughly 30,000-square-foot building, of which Alfalfa's would occupy about 24,000 square feet. Two existing businesses — Biryani Pot, an Indian restaurant, and Spa Brokers, a seller of hot tubs, saunas and fireplaces — occupy the rest. The project aims for a trendier exterior with repainted walls and a veneer-wood accent. A main draw could be a “community meeting” area with a multi-use outdoor space, interior café or community room, and a demo or prep kitchen for culinary classes and educational events, according to the city's agreement with the developer.

Centennial considers tax incentives for significant projects that will have a positive impact on the community, the city has said.

City council also approved an incentive agreement for a new Natural Grocers on East Arapahoe Road near South Peoria Street in 2017. The monetary amount for Alfalfa's is in line with projects of similar size and scale, the city has said.

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