Grocery-Store-Anchored Cultural Hub
In late Spring, 2016, MOC began a community-driven planning process to address issues that had been identified by residents. These issues included the need for a full-service grocery store and access to fresh food grown locally; the imminent closure of the RTD Park and Ride; the lack of retail business within the community; the breach among the diverse cultures represented within the neighborhood; the proliferation of fast food restaurants, liquor stores, pawn shops, and marijuana dispensaries along the Peoria Corridor; lack of affordable housing options; and the looming threat of gentrification.
In a process funded by the Kresge Foundation, over 2500 residents participated in dialogue that spanned almost 8 months. The discussions (focus groups, surveys, individual interviews) were aimed at addressing the above-mentioned challenges and generating solutions that would support the interests and well-being of the residents. A variety of solutions were identified and with funding from The Colorado Health Foundation, many of these were piloted throughout 2017. The community spoke loud and clear about its desire to reclaim the former Park and Ride site as the location of the proposed solutions.
The resulting FreshLo Implementation Plan called for transforming the former Park and Ride location into a vibrant retail hub that would include a grocery-anchored cultural center that would incorporate small retail, meeting space, and a commissary kitchen to act as an incubator for food-related microenterprise. Additionally, the HUB would be a central link in a developing sustainable food-access system and be the key link between a new Healthy Living Walkable Loop aimed at creating a multi-modal loop through Montbello’s large residential area.
In 2018, the Kresge Foundation and The Colorado Health Foundation funded a process which included working with the Urban Land Institute and a panel of national experts to determine the feasibility of the FreshLo Implementation Plan. One hundred eighteen stakeholders in the Montbello community participated in this process which included in-depth interviews with residents, a thorough market analysis, and coordination with the City’s Neighborhood Planning Initiative.
The key focus area for the ULI Panel within the Montbello neighborhood was around the RTD site, 12300 Albrook Drive, that the community had proposed for the FreshLo Cultural Hub. Developing the Hub at the RTD site along Albrook Drive would bring exciting opportunities to the redevelopment of the entire surrounding area. The economic investment in the southern area along Peoria Street is fundamentally connected to the creation of the FreshLo Hub through the following:
An ideal location for the creation of affordable housing, additional services, and jobs due to its proximity to I-70 and the RTD rail. Housing development in this area would not replace existing housing and cause displacement.
Developing and investing in the area can fix the “food desert.”
An opportunity exists to vastly improve connectivity across the I-70 barrier.
An opportunity exists to create better public transportation linkages for this historically isolated community.
Moving forward with the FreshLo Implementation Plan is contingent upon acquisition of the Former RTD Park and Ride located at 12300 Albrook Drive. This community-led, community-informed initiative is groundbreaking and has the possibility of transforming the entire Peoria Corridor in Montbello into a thriving business, cultural, and residential center for the neighborhood.
Following is a diagram of how the development has been envisioned for the existing site.