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Lowe’s deal no longer a reality

The Falcon Fire Protection District’s plan for a new fire station in the Rolling Thunder Business Park is apparently dead.The initial deal involved Armstrong Development Inc., developer Greg Timm’s Cygnet Land LLC and Hammers Construction Inc.Armstrong would have purchased the fire district’s current lot and built a home improvement center that would have been leased to Lowe’s. And Hammers Construction would have built a new fire station, valued at $1.6 million, at Timm’s Rolling Thunder Business Park, said Richard Martin, president of the fire district’s board.Martin said he learned the deal had fallen through when the FFPD attorney notified him of an e-mail sent by Armstrong’s attorney, Jim Johnson. Johnson said in his e-mail that Lowe’s had failed to deposit $3.5 million into an escrow account.”He [Johnson] said he would get more details to us,” Martin said, adding that Johnson’s e-mail also indicated that Lowe’s had terminated all land deals in El Paso County in the past few weeks.According to Johnson’s e-mail, the decision was a “surprise” to everyone in the law firm and they were working to try to “salvage the deal,” Martin said.The district never dealt directly with Lowe’s, but a “Lowe’s representative did come to meetings 10 or 12 months ago and asked how fast can we do this, what can we do to speed it up,” Martin added.”The fire department itself had done everything with county and planning and zoning we could possibly do back in April.”A planning manager with El Paso County, who asked to remain anonymous, said she had heard that Lowe’s had pulled out of the deal, but she said the county has received nothing in writing.Originally, the new fire station would have been completed this month. “But it got pushed back farther and farther until it was pushed back to January or February next year,” Martin said.”We were doing it on a real thin budget, especially compared to what the Black Forest district built a few years ago – even their own people call it the ‘Taj Mahal.'”The average building built for a fire department is $2.3 million, so we were way under that.”Our duty to the community is to deliver the best service we can. A new building with more room to do training would benefit the community. We were going for functionality – a metal building to get more space for crew quarters. If those people can sleep better at night when they’re not on a response; they’re more alert, they’re more active and they can train better.”Studies have shown that more firefighters die of a heart attack than anything else because of periods of inactivity, followed by intense activity and stress, he said.Local gyms have given Falcon firefighters below-market rates to use their equipment, but onsite is much more convenient than offsite, Martin said.The district recently received a $100,000 grant to purchase physical fitness equipment, but the equipment is still in storage with the manufacturer because there is no room at the current station, he said.”So now we’re trying to decide what the heck to do with that. I’m sorry we have to back up and start over,” Martin said.For now, the district is weighing its options.”Should we build a building just to house the physical fitness equipment so we can use it? Then what if we sell the property?” Martin asked. “Then we’ve built something we don’t need.”Another option is to go back to some of the largest developers in the neighborhood that really wanted us to put our No.1 station closer to their developments. I think the majority of the board would like to see a new fire station more centrally located in District 1.”So, we’ll see what the future presents, what opportunities come along.”

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