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Is REI coming to Durango?

Community members speculate over the potential of having big-box outdoor retailer
Architectural rendering of what the “unnamed sports store” will look like from its southwest parking lot. (Courtesy of Hillside Architects)

A proposal for an unnamed outdoor and sporting goods retail facility was discussed earlier this month at a Durango Design Review Board meeting, leading some to speculate whether REI is coming to Durango.

The proposal calls for a 22,000-square-foot building on 2.3 acres at Turner Drive and U.S. Highway 550. The Coca-Cola facility and Homewood Suites by Hilton are to the north of the property, and Morehart Murphy Auto Center is to the south.

The Durango Telegraph first reported on the possibility of REI coming to Durango in its Jan. 12 edition.

REI was mentioned by design review board member Blake Fredrickson during a Jan. 11 meeting, but there was no confirmation as to which retailer was proposing the project because of a nondisclosure agreement between the company and the developer.

Durango Community Development Planner Dan Armentano said he can’t speak to the reasoning behind the nondisclosure agreement but speculates the reason for it may have to do with a contract for the property.

Because the proposal is in the early design guidance stage, the developer is not required to disclose the actual business.

In an email to The Durango Herald on Jan. 12, REI spokeswoman Megan Behrbaum said REI had not made an announcement about a Durango location.

Business Improvement District Executive Director Tim Walsworth said he’s heard the rumors of REI coming to Durango and that an unnamed downtown sporting goods store has it on good authority that the well-known outdoor retailer is coming to town.

The proposal shares similarities with other REI locations that have been built in Colorado. Proposed renderings show a similar architectural structure and square footage to the store that opened in Glenwood Springs in July.

A location that opened in Colorado Springs also shared a similar square footage. The unnamed sporting good store renderings also depict a building with a similar color scheme to other REI locations.

“There has been substantial speculation regarding the fact that it may be an REI,” Armentano said. “I think certainly the business, or the building design, rather, is somewhat indicative of that type of corporate design.”

The proposal is in a major site plan review, which means it will go before the planning commission in February at the earliest. The Jan. 11 meeting was primarily to evaluate the building design and provide comments on how the building would align with the design review board’s commercial design guidelines.

The proposed project narrative lists Hillside Architecture as the developer. Attempts to reach Hillside were made on Jan. 12, but the Herald did not receive a response.

“It's not surprising to me that a corporate sporting goods store would look at Durango based on all the stuff we like to do around here,” Walsworth said.

Backcountry Experience owner Ben Rockis said he’s heard rumors that the proposal is spearheaded by a company in Texas that seeks out land on which to build REI stores.

Segovia Partners, a retail brokerage firm based in Dallas, offers tenant representation for REI locations in Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Jack Breard is listed as the Segovia representative for those markets. The Herald attempted to contact Breard on Tuesday but did not receive a response.

In regard to the possibility of REI moving to Durango, Rockis said it would be interesting to see how a big box store would mesh with Durango’s locally driven business economy.

“They do very good business there. And when I say good business, I mean they follow the rules,” Rockis said. “They adhere to policies that vendors put out there and they have a very positive influence on outdoor retail.”

He said competition breeds success and it will make Backcountry Experience better as a result.

Walsworth said the potential emergence of REI does cause some concern for downtown outdoor sporting good retailers.

“However, we have other chain stores and corporate-owned stores in our community. And it seems that there's room for both, at least that's how it's been in the past,” Walsworth said.


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