Gypsum buys restaurant at I-70 interchange to spur redevelopment
Town officials say all options are on the table for Gypsum Grill site
GYPSUM — The town of Gypsum will soon be the proud owner of a restaurant located at the community’s gateway.
But Gypsum isn’t planning a move into the burger-slinging business. Rather, the real estate contract signed Tuesday to purchase the Gypsum Grill represents the town’s latest effort to redevelop the community’s Interstate 70 interchange area.
According to Gypsum Town Manager Jeremy Rietmann, Gypsum Grill owner Arturo Palacio accepted the town’s offer to purchase his commercial property for $960,000. The restaurant building and parking area cover slightly less than one acre. Palacio had listed the property for sale at $1.195 million.
“This is an investment the town has considered for many years,” said Rietmann. “In order for us to achieve some of the goals of our master plan, we needed to do this.”
Rietmann noted that when Palacio built the Gypsum Grill 29 years ago, Gypsum was a very different community.
“We think Arturo has done a great job up there and has been a long-time local business operator,” said Rietmann.
But back in the 1980s, traffic at the Gypsum I-70 interchange was mainly composed of town residents who were headed upvalley to work. While those folks are still entering I-70 at Gypsum, they have been joined by people traveling to the Eagle County Regional Airport or Costco.
“We see that area of town as the most likely site to be able to generate incremental sales tax growth,” said Rietmann. “Those would be new dollars in the community, not just a shift of spending.”
It isn’t hard to predict likely business options at the site. Interstate interchanges across the nation include fast-food franchises, convenience stores and fuel options.
“I think everything is on the table because it is so early in this process,” said Rietmann. “The long term goal is redevelopment — something that can provide an amenity that appeals to more peop0le and maybe creates a more appealing entrance to the community.”
Rietmann noted that people often remark that Gypsum’s entrance doesn’t do the town justice. In fact, he noted the I-70 entryway actually disguises the great community behind it.
The town has already taken steps to improve its gateway. Several years ago the town purchased the rental cabin site — often called Turgeonville — located between U.S. Highway 6 and Gypsum Creek. As the condition of the cabins worsened, Gypsum made the decision to tear them down and create an open space parcel just south of the Union Pacific railroad overpass. The overpass itself got a makeover last summer with fresh paint and masonry. The town also placed a new variable message sign at the site.
Rietmann added that in 2018 Gypsum worked with the owners of the Wylaco location to do landscaping and build a fence on their southern property line to improve the visual corridor next to the Eagle River.
When Gypsum takes over the Gypsum Grill site, those beautification efforts will continue. The town also hopes to work with the owner of the adjacent property — the HiWay 6 Store and Shell gas station — on a redevelopment plan.
“The properties could both work together as pieces of a whole that will make sense in the end,” Rietmann said.
In the more immediate future, Gypsum has until its March 8 closing date to figure out what it will do with the Gypsum Grill once it owns the property.
“All options are open. One option that may be worth our while to pursue is to lease the property back to Arturo or find an interim operator,” said Rietmann.”The longer-term goal is to find a good prospect that is interested in purchasing the property and doing something new. I think it is very likely that there will be demolition at some point and it will be an entirely new operation.”