Go-Fer is gone
Convenience store closed; Developers eye key downtown location
December 27, 2006
Steamboat Springs — The closing of a long-time convenience store signals more change in downtown Steamboat Springs.
Paul Brown, whose family has owned the real estate affiliated with the Go-Fer Foods store at Seventh and Lincoln for three generations, said Monday he and his father, Bob, have talked to more than one developer about the future of the site.
Jim Cook of Colorado Group Real Estate confirmed he has talked to the Browns about the property.
“I am aware of a client with our firm who is interested in the site and has made an offer,” Cook said.
Steamboat Springs businessman Dan Bonner closed the store Dec. 22 after leasing it for a decade from the Browns’ business, Monument Oil of Grand Junction. Bonner said he has known for years that he would not renew his lease with Monument Oil.
“We had a very loyal clientele for a long time,” Bonner said. “I’ve been talking to (the Browns) for a couple of years about my plans not to extend the lease. I don’t think they have any intention of reopening (as a convenience store). It’s a pivotal corner. With the value of the property, landowners can’t get the return on investment from what a convenience store can generate.”
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Brown said his family has not made a decision about in what direction they’ll go with their property in the future.
“Dan Bonner’s lease and franchise agreement expired, and we have talked to other parties about running (the store),” Brown said. “In the meantime, we were approached by several developers – two of the three are already involved in the redevelopment of downtown Steamboat.
“It may be more beneficial economically to look at redevelopment. With the redev-elopment already under way in Steamboat, they may want to go to the north side of Lincoln.”
Another business affected by the uncertain future of Go-Fer Foods is Pisa’s downtown location, which leased its space in the convenience store from Bonner. Owner Chris Hebrank said the store is closed pending the Browns’ decision.
“Hopefully, there will be a new owner who wants to operate a convenience store there,” Hebrank said.
Pisa’s Pizza and Pasta remains open for business as usual in Riverside Center on Steamboat’s west side.
Go-Fer Foods is diagonally across the intersection of Seventh and Lincoln from the future Howelsen Place. The Harbor Hotel was demolished earlier this winter to make room for Howelsen Place. Cook is a member of the development team at Howelsen Place.
Howelsen Place is among five major commercial and residential projects under construction or in the planning process downtown.
Butcherknife Creek runs underneath the Go-Fer Food property in a culvert before day-lighting on the south side of Lincoln in front of Off the Beaten Path Bookstore and Coffee House. Bonner said the underground fuel tanks at the gas station were replaced a decade ago, before he assumed operation of the business.
Many Steamboat residents refer to the just-closed convenience store as “Space Station Gas” in acknowledgment of the 1950s-era sign on the street corner.
Historic preservation expert Arianthe Stettner said it is an example of an era in American roadside signs that dates to the beginning of the Space Race.
The trend was prompted, she said, when the former Soviet Union launched the satellite known as Sputnik in 1956.
“We need to save that sign,” Stettner said.
The red and white sign, which has survived two remodelings of the convenience store, is topped with a spherical “satellite.”
Brown said his father, Bob Brown, has been in touch with officials at the City of Steam-boat Springs who expressed their interest in preserving the sign. He added that several national companies have sought to use the sign in national ad campaigns.
Bob Brown’s father, Cloy R. Brown founded Monument Oil in 1929. The sign probably was built in 1959, Paul Brown said. His family owns 18 Go-Fer Foods stores on the Western Slope and leases them to independent operators.
Bonner, who has developed a specialty in commercial real estate with Colorado Group Realty, recently announced he also would resume his career as a certified public accountant with Tredway Henion and Kerr PC.
Bonner acknowledged that the residents of Old Town have come to rely on Go-Fer Foods for grocery staples, but he believes there are other businesses that can meet those needs.
“When I look at it, there are other options,” Bonner said. “They can get those things at Healthy Solutions and (Bam-boo Market Health Foods) and they can get the Sunday paper at the book store.”
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