JOHNSTOWN — Drivers on Interstate 25 could soon stop someplace new for fuel, food and fudge. Texas-based Buc-ee’s is planning its first Colorado location in Johnstown.
Buc-ee’s is well-known across the south for its gargantuan gas stations and colossal convenience stores. Buc-ee’s locations offer travelers in-house barbecue, homemade fudge and its signature Beaver Nuggets, puffed corn coated in brown sugar and caramel.
Buc-ee’s locations are distinctive, with branding that features a smiling beaver, shelves of home goods and spacious private bathrooms. Buc-ee’s employees make a starting salary of $15 an hour.
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Buc-ee’s Ltd. is based in Pearland, Texas, and was founded by Arch “Beaver” Aplin III. The convenience-store chain began undergoing an expansion in 2019 into several new states and was recently featured on CBS Sunday Morning.
The planned Johnstown location is the first Buc-ee’s outside of the south.
Typically, convenience stores top out at about 2,500 square feet. Buc-ee’s locations are often more than 20 times that size.
While the specific square footage of the Johnstown store has yet to be revealed, Buc-ee’s locations on similarly sized tracts have been built at 50,000 to more than 70,000 square feet. That’s about double the size of a typical Whole Foods Market store.
The Johnstown location is expected to open in 2024, according to Buc-ee’s website.
Buc-ee’s did not respond to requests for comment Friday.
The Colorado Buc-ee’s, according to Johnstown planning documents, will be located on a rural 140-acre parcel at the southwest corner of Interstate 25 and Colorado Highway 60.
“This property has historically been agricultural use, with some oil and gas. No development has occurred on this site,” according to Johnstown planning memos.
The 140-acre site would be developed in phases, and the Buc-ee’s store would encompass only a small portion of the parcel, Johnstown planning documents show.
Buc-ee’s, through holding company Bucees Johnstown LLC, bought the property in December 2021 for nearly $9.4 million, Weld County real estate records show.
That holding company was formed late last year, according to its Colorado Secretary of State registration, which lists a principal mailing address for a Buc-ee’s location in Lake Jackson, Texas.
The land seller was Platte Land & Water LLC, an entity registered to the Denver address of Resource Land Holdings LP, an agricultural land investor.
Buc-ee’s requested — and received — several land use code amendments that would allow it to build the giant store and the accompanying infrastructure.
One request involves changing the traffic flow to restrict certain turns at the intersection of Weld County Road 48 and Gateway Drive, the entrance to the Gateway Center commercial development.
In a November 2021 letter to Johnstown officials, members of the Gateway Center Owner’s Association cried foul.
“Specifically, our membership is very concerned that eliminating full turn movement at the intersection will impair the continued development of the Gateway Center and will negatively impact its existing businesses,” the letter said. “… Gateway provides significant commercial tax base and is an ideal area for continued retail and commercial development. After years of struggle, significant development is set to occur in Gateway. Several retail projects are currently being proposed within Gateway, but they will fail if the existing access is prematurely restricted to a right-in-right out only.”
In a brief statement before Johnstown Town Council last October, Buc-ee’s director of real estate Stan Beard said it is not the company’s intent to create traffic headaches for area drivers.
“One of our main goals is to make it easy for our customers to get in and out of our facility,” he said.
According to a December 2021 memo to Johnstown Town Council members, “town staff has worked to keep the Gateway owners ‘in the loop’ on our reviews, the applicant’s submittals, and the review/hearing process, and continue to work diligently to facilitate the best solution possible for both parties as well as the town’s long-range transportation network.”
The Johnstown Town Council approved conceptual development plan amendments and a final plat for the Buc-ee’s tract late last year.
Johnstown planning staff was not available for comment Friday.
Detailed development plans, including proposed building sizes and a full traffic study, have yet to be made publicly available.