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Natural Grocers opening store in Denver’s Central Park

The former Punch Bowl Social in Central Park’s old air traffic control tower is getting a new neighbor.

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Natural Grocers plans to open a 13,300-square-foot store on a two-acre site at the northwest corner of Central Park and Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards, just east of the Punch Bowl Social location that permanently shuttered as a result of the pandemic last year.

The Lakewood-based natural and organic grocer will open within the Control Tower project, one of three new mixed-use developments in Central Park — formerly known as Stapleton — planned by developers Equity Ventures Commercial Development, Wall Development Group and Evergreen Devco, according to a news release from the firms.

The developers plan to break ground on the Natural Grocers building in the fourth quarter of 2021, Equity Ventures founder Mark McPherson said.

Natural Grocers, which didn’t respond to a request for comment, has 159 stores in 20 states, according to its website. Seven are within Denver city limits.

Equity Ventures has developed nine Natural Grocers locations in Colorado, Texas and Indiana, according to its online portfolio. Last year, Equity Ventures and Wall completed the 20-acre Gateway Crossing development in Green Valley Ranch, which also included a Natural Grocers store. Evergreen is responsible for Central Park’s Eastbridge Town Center and the Shops at Beeler Park, plus it recently broke ground on an eight-acre Sprouts-anchored shopping center in Green Valley Ranch.

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Courtesy of Equity Ventures

Natural Grocers has seven locations in Denver and 41 in Colorado, according to its website.

In addition to the two-acre Control Tower project, Equity Ventures, Evergreen and Wall are developing the 12.8-acre Runway North project at the northwest corner of I-70 and Central Park Boulevard and 16-acre Runway South project at the corner of 40th Avenue and Central Park Boulevard.

“The significance of I-70 and the more than 250,000 cars per day that travel past two of these projects allow for strong regional opportunities,” McPherson said in an email. “Additionally, the majority of DIA travelers will go by the Runway North and Runway South projects. These two developments will support those needing to stock up on food and other goods before traveling to their final Colorado destination.”

Businesses that will either lease space or purchase land within Runway North include restaurant chains Chili’s and Raising Canes, PNC Bank, SCL Health Medical Group and Go Church, according to the developers.

In-N-Out has also proposed a location within the Runway North site, BusinessDen previously reported.

Businesses that will either lease space or purchase land within Runway South, meanwhile, include QuikTrip, a 106-room Fairfield by Marriott Inn and Suites hotel, and Superstar Car Wash.

Around 60 percent of the projects have been leased. Opportunities that remain include a one-acre development site next to Natural Grocers.

“We are intentionally seeking tenants who are ‘Amazon-proof’ and have been successful during COVID,” McPherson said. “We are also community building with varying complementary uses that consist of both national and local users.”

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