Ace Hardware franchisees Nick and Kirby Kuklenski could have opened their new 10,900-square-foot store in any number of locations along the Front Range. But after a two-year search for a location to open their third outlet, they chose the Hancock Plaza shopping center, off South Academy Boulevard.

One key factor in the brothers’ decision: more than 10,000 households in neighborhoods along the heavily traveled corridor.

“That was a huge benefit. And the convenience of a grocery-anchored center like Hancock Plaza is ideal,” Kirby said.

Another obvious plus was the proximity of Fort Carson.

The city’s southeast submarket is ideal for capturing a projected 400 to 500 customer visits a day, even with a national home improvement center a few miles away, the Kuklenskis say.

“A lot of people want to get in, get what they want and get going. They don’t have time to go a big-box store,” Kirby said.

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The Kuklenskis’ other local Ace Hardware store has been a solid performer ever since it re-opened several years ago in a revitalized Uintah Gardens Shopping Center with a King Soopers grocery.

Since the brothers took it over, the store not only exceeded first-year sales projections by 48 percent, but receipts have increased by 5 percent annually ever since.

Some of the Uintah hardware staff will eventually be transferred to work in the new store, which is set to open in March.

Kratt Commercial Properties broker Manny San Fernando said the new 2730 S. Academy Blvd. location will replace a vacant Goodwill retail store.

The ownership group had been approached by several prospects, but didn’t want to fill space with “just anyone,” San Fernando said.

“I wish (commercial tenants) were more focused on that area. It’s stable. The new Drennan Road (direct airport access) project is a sign the city is committed. The opportunity is huge,” he said.

Greener apartment communities

The Griffis Group is getting serious about reducing its carbon footprint at nine Colorado luxury apartment communities.

In the coming year, the company plans to buy 11.8 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy credits generated by wind power from Boulder-based Renewable Choice Energy. That represents a 40 percent increase over last year’s commitment, said company founder and CEO Ian Griffis.

Once implemented, the project will offset 100 percent of the company’s 2,290 apartment units’ electricity usage.

President B.J. Hybl says that he doesn’t know of any other Colorado multifamily investor that’s doing as much as the Griffis Group.

Experts in the field estimate the move will help the Griffis Group save over 13 million pounds of carbon dioxide pollution and have an impact similar to planting more than 54 thousand mature trees.

North Nevada parcel sells

Urban renewal efforts at University Village Colorado appear to be having a positive effect on nearby real estate.

The 1.8-acre former Aspen Homes Sales Center site at 5901 N. Nevada Ave. has sold to jewelry retailer and investor Luisa Graff for $850,000.

Graff plans to remodel and expand the building, which is part of the approved University Village urban renewal development. LKA Architects have come up with the new design and a general contractor has been selected.

The jewelry store will benefit from direct visibility from Interstate 25 as well as from the extension of North Nevada Avenue north to Dublin Boulevard. The project’s first phase, funded by the Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority, is already under way.

The new frontage road is expected to relieve almost 16,000 cars a day from one of the city’s busiest on-ramps – and will allow University Village area shoppers easier access.

“I’m delighted at access from east, west, north and south.  And the views of the peak are great from there,” Graff said.  “I looked at many sites, but this one allows me to reclaim an existing piece of land rather than develop in a new area.  That was my goal.”

Pending city and regional building department approval, Graff plans to start with a 7,600-square-foot building but has room to expand in the future.

“We may eventually like to invite another small business or individual to join us,” she said.

Graff will move her store from its present location in the Centennial Commons Shopping Center, which is also in foreclosure.

No opening date for the new store has been set.

The property’s seller was Vectra Bank.  Grubb & Ellis broker Rich Kelly represented Graff in the transaction.

Becky Hurley may be contacted at (719) 329-5235 or email at Friend her on Facebook.