“I’m here to help businesses succeed,” says Steve Art, economic development manager for the city of Wheat Ridge. “I help the city council fulfill their goal of making Wheat Ridge an economically viable community.
“A lot of what I do is marketing, [promoting] the city with the benefits we have to open a business here, or to move here or to help existing businesses to become stronger and help them with the process.” For a lot of mom and pop businesses, it’s hard to navigate through city hall, and Art can help them with that.
“We try our best to make Wheat Ridge as business-friendly as possible, and I think we do a dang good job,” Art said. “We have a philosophy of no surprises. We would rather tell you the day you walk through the door whether you can get your project done in Wheat Ridge… because we don’t want to see you fail.”
Businesses of all sizes opened in the city last year — close to 30 ribbon-cuttings in 2023. “A lot of those are small businesses,” Art said. They include GetRight’s Bakery & Plant Shop, Mr. Biscuits Bakery and Wolf + Wildflower Wine Bar. Huckleberry Roasters also brought their third cafe to Wheat Ridge last year.
Mass FX Media, a motion graphics design and visual effects company, has more than a dozen employees. Next door to them on 38th Avenue is engineering firm Shannon and Wilson, employing about 30.
“These are high-paid, intelligent, educated professionals, eating lunch on 38th Avenue or throughout Wheat Ridge,” Art said. “We’re looking at not only driving sales tax but driving employment for those people who go out to lunch, go shopping, and potentially move to Wheat Ridge and spend their money here.”
Clear Creek Crossing, a walking trail network with nearby restaurants and retail, has been a huge success, according to Art, with the opening of Kum & Go, Dutch Bros Coffee and Foothills Credit Union. “A 300-unit, multi-family apartment complex opened there in 2023 — it’s fully occupied — and a 150-unit is planned, and maybe another hotel. Lifetime Fitness should open in February. There’s a lot of retail in the works, and a couple of banks coming in.”
In 2024, 3rd Shot Pickleball will occupy the old Lucky’s Market building on Wadsworth Boulevard. Clear Creek Crossing should break ground on a restaurant district that will include Birdcall, an all natural chicken restaurant, and Golden-based Bonfire Burrito. The old complex will close on a Saturday and everything will be moved to the new location in one day, according to Art.
Art is also the executive director of the city’s Urban Renewal Authority. “We issued a bond in 2021 that netted us $36 million, much of which for infrastructure work—roads, underground repairs, transit-repairs at 52nd Avenue. A lot in 2024 will be that bond work—double-left turn lanes from 38th onto Kipling, some private development, about $4 million to improve the frontage along I-70 across from the Applewood Shopping Center; a shopping center under proposal at 44th & Kipling.”
Art says the city tries to honor its rural roots, the farms, which are mostly on the west side of town, but that times are changing. “While the city tries to preserve those, a new property owner might want to rezone that land, and we would have to work through the process.”
“We just did a master plan for 44th Avenue, from Anderson Park to I-70,” Art said. “There needs to be some improvement, but it’s not like 38thAvenue, our ‘downtown.’ Local Works is working with us to rebrand that portion of the neighborhood.”
“I like that I get to help a business to open. I get to help the citizens of Wheat Ridge in bringing hopefully development that they like,and I get to meet people. You can call this office day or night—303-235-2806—and I will always get back to you. I will always find an answer to your question.”