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Mom and pop shops paying the price for Highlands Ranch growth

Too much of a good thing is bad for business
Posted at 10:09 PM, Feb 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-20 00:36:37-05

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HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — Nowhere is the popularity of our growing Colorado more evident than in Highlands Ranch.

Home values are soaring in that Douglas County community, and more and more shops and businesses are moving into the area. But not everyone is applauding the growth.

“Highlands Ranch is open for business. It's clean; it's safe; it's fun, and I think a really great place to run a business,” said business owner Maxine Cutt Alcott.

In the past 10 years, the population of Highlands Ranch has grown by nearly 20 percent. Home values have skyrocketed, and major shops and restaurants have moved into the area.

"There are businesses just waiting to come into Highlands Ranch," commercial realtor Tony English said.

English said he doesn't see the boom slowing down anytime soon. He said business owners can drive three miles away to Lakewood and pay half the rent, but there aren't many takers.

But along with the growth, comes another story. Commercial rent in Highlands Ranch has gone up a whopping 40 percent in the past five years, pricing some mom and pop shops out of the market.

"I would guess about 10 percent of the mom and pops go out within two years," said English,

He said the popularity of the area has been a double-edged sword

"Everyone wants to live here which means the values go up and the commercial values go up, too,” he said. “And mom and pops can't make it here. So it's good and bad. If you're a homeowner, you love it. If you're a business owner not so much."

Alcott has run her floral home decor shop for nearly 10 years.

"It really makes me sad to see a small business fail," she said.

She's seen six neighbors go out of business, and her rent has soared.

"It doubled when we moved from University to here, and it keeps going up," she said.

To survive, Alcott expanded her business to include weddings and corporate events. Now business is "blooming."

Fellow small business owner Scott Matheu agrees.

"Rent has doubled, but we have such a strong customer base we're able to withstand it," he said.

And with the clock ticking on their fellow small business owners, Matheu and Alcott said they're not going down without a fight.

"There's a lot of people that flick on their open sign and stand there and wait for people to walk in. That's not how you're a success. You have to go out and be a part of that community," said Maxine.