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Proposed Colorado Gun Store, Shooting Range Could Be One Of The Largest In The Nation

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A sprawling 100,000-square-foot facility owned by Fort Collins-based USA Liberty Arms is poised to go up near the southeast corner of Interstate 25 and U.S. 34, and it could include a shooting range, gun store and even a full-service restaurant.

Specifically, the potentially $18 million project could spread across approximately 15 acres and house about 60 shooting lanes in a 50,000-square-foot underground shooting range at the intersections of Thompson Crossing and Ronald Reagan Boulevard in Johnstown. Beyond the variety of shooting areas, there would also be an above-ground gun store, classroom space for training, a restaurant and room to grow in the future.

"It's designed to be one location where people can go to safely use firearms and practice them in a controlled environment," said Tracey Ryk, a broker associate with The Group Inc. Real Estate. "It's a beautiful piece of architecture in its conceptual form."

By way of comparison, the Safeway and King Soopers stores in Windsor each span approximately 60,000 square feet. Ryk said this facility could be one of the largest in the country when all is said and done.

The proposal went before Johnstown's planning and zoning board in May. At that time, the board approved the plan but wanted additional information about the environmental impacts along with the associated noise and any potential influx in traffic, citing concerns from residents in the area.

Project planners said that in terms of environmental concerns, air quality would not be an issue -- the lead from spent shells came nowhere close to Environmental Protection Agency standards. Additionally, noise would be mitigated since it is an underground shooting range lined with special filters and sound-absorbing materials, according to a letter from the Thompson Ranch Development Company to Johnstown planning officials.

The issue that has been the most contentious among residents is how additional traffic would be handled on Thompson Parkway, which is the only way to access the Thompson Crossing Subdivision. According to the study, the volume would be "less than half" of what was already planned for under the current design guidelines and existing retail zoning on the 30-acre plot of land.

"The Liberty Institute will be constructed using state of the art technology and will not directly impact adjacent properties," wrote Todd Williams, vice president of Thompson Ranch Development Company, in the report. "We are excited about the potential addition of the Liberty Institute to 2534 ... The Liberty Institute will provide a regional draw to 2534 and a valuable service to northern Colorado."

The building targets anyone interested in firearms -- from police officers in training to people wanting their concealed carry permit and even the weekend gun enthusiast, Ryk said. Through gun and other sales, project designers have said it could rake in up to $10 million annually, all subject to sales tax.

If things progress as expected, and the Johnstown Town Council approves the plans in August, Ryk said construction would take about a year once final pieces of the puzzle were arranged.

"If USA Liberty Arms has done its due diligence and demonstrated the project does not have any direct impacts to surrounding properties, it should be approved," she said. "We are very excited about it." ___

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