In the previous story I talked about the Twin Peaks Mall and its shaky future. In this I’ll widen out the topic to include possible changes we could see in Longmont‘s short and long term future. These are not necessarily things I wish for, just the way I see things progressing based on trends both here and in other cities.
Six years ago, if I told you that just beyond McDonalds and the car dealerships near Hwy 287 and KenPratt Blvd would be a whole new multi-lane boulevard with stores and restaurants galore, where currently empty land sat, you probably wouldn’t have believed it, right? Around the same time if I told you that there would be a Super Walmart on Hwy 287 and Hwy 66, that seems to always have a fairly full parking lot, you probably wouldn’t believe that either.
Well, Harvest Junction and the beginnings of commercial development along Hwy 66 are here, and I expect more of the same, if Longmont wants to thrive and survive. Those two locations sit on two freeway exits from I-25, one a gateway to Boulder, the other a gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. And both are gateways to Longmont.
The area east of Hover, where the mall and the older Walmart stand, is a different story. I wouldn’t go as far as calling it blighted, but it’s seen better days. I suspect that Walmart will close, especially when the new Super Walmart is built on the east side of town, and the mall will continue to languish. I just hope the same mistake Boulder made isn’t repeated here with a fenced in and boarded up shopping center in a high visibility area.
What to do with that land? I heard and liked the idea of a new theater, that’s a start. How about something more than a movie theater, how about a performing arts or possible concert venue? Make that area the entertainment center of the city, maybe of the region? The loss of shopping won’t be much of a loss with all of the stores right across the street on Hover, and may even lessen some of the competition on some of the businesses on Main Street.
Longmont needs a nice movie theater and is losing money to those cities around us who have wised up and put in state-of-the-art theaters with stadium seating. While I’m not sure Longmont could support something along the lines of the Budweiser or Broomfield Event Centers, I think the citizens could and would support a new performing arts complex. And I think non-citizens would come here for movies, plays, and concerts given the right circumstances.