KFC reps compromise on signs, but leery of CDOT street-widening mandate

       Representatives of Harman Management Corp. announced at a neighborhood meeting March 30 that they will scale back their signage for the proposed Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and A&W restaurant at 31st Street and Colorado Avenue.
       This compromise - as well as plans for muted building colors, a nicer-looking facility than the current KFC at the site, increased employment and acquiescence with city wishes for sidewalks or trails on two sides of the property - met with satisfaction from about 15 residents, including the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) board, which voted unanimously to support the project.
       However, the proposal could still be scrapped, Harman construction manager Dan Mundy said at the meeting, if the Colorado Department of Transporta-tion (CDOT) supports an initial recommendation by City Traffic Planning that KFC should pay the cost of widening Colorado Avenue in front of the store to allow a fuller eastbound right-turn lane onto 31st. The eventual cost, which would mean having to relocate city stoplights, could cost well over $100,000, Mundy said.
       That issue is to be discussed at a meeting with Harman, CDOT and city staff at 10 a.m. Friday, April 1 at the Regional Develop- ment Center, 2880 Inter-national Circle, City Westside Planner James Mayerl told the group.
       City Transportation planners are now indicating they would support a right-in, right-out access to the restaurant instead of the widening, Mayerl noted. But CDOT would have the final say because it is a state highway on that part of Colorado Avenue (Business 24).
       The current KFC store at the location precedes 1977, when Harman Management Corp. bought it from a franchisee, according to Brian Shinn, regional director for KFC's Colorado South Region. He estimated that an upgraded store at the site, with the A&W attraction, could boost sales by $500,000 a year.
       This would translate into an employment increase from the current 12 employees to 32, predicted Carlos Martinez, a Colorado South Area consultant for Harman.
       At the same time, however, KFC representatives say they do not anticipate a long-term, significant increase in traffic, noting that the new store will have about the same seating as it does now.
       KFC had initially proposed two freestanding signs, each 40 feet high, one at the front of the property and one at the rear. These would have been within code on the 1.35-acre site, but they would have been the largest signs on that part of the avenue, other than Long's. The new freestanding-sign plan calls for just one 40-footer, at the rear of the property, facing Highway 24. At the front there would be what's known as a “monument sign,” about 6 to 8 feet high on the ground in front of the restaurant.
       Steve Brown of Near Design & Planning, which is creating the sign for KFC, said the company belief is that a smaller sign near Colorado Avenue might actually be more effective. “If there were a large pole sign, people might just drive under it,” he said.
       This pleased Lucky Stoller, who lives directly across Colorado Avenue from KFC. She had previously written City Planning that she was worried the originally proposed signs would “blot out the sun.”
       At the end of the meeting, she told the KFC representatives she wanted to “personally welcome you to the Westside. This is a healthy, tax-paying business.”
       Assuming KFC decides to go forward, Mayerl could approve the plan administratively, in which case Shinn said construction would not begin until probably next December.

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