By Dillon Thomas

JOHNSTOWN, Colo. (CBS4) – As the northern Colorado community of Johnstown prepares to welcome Buc-ee’s, a mega gas station set to break ground in June, the town is also announcing one of its largest developments nearby. Construction crews have already begun digging on a new development at Highway 60 and I-25 which will help redefine the gateway to northern Colorado.

More than 1 million square feet of commercial retail space and more than 1,000 housing units will soon be on the market.

“We call ourselves the largest small town along the Front Range. It is growing rapidly,” said Mayor Gary Lebsack. “We feel it is the gateway to retail in northern Colorado.”

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According to a recent survey an estimated 42,000 homes will be built within seven miles of Johnstown in the coming years.

Lebsack said the town wanted to capitalize on their proximity to Interstate 25 while also keeping population growth away from their historical downtown area several miles away from the interstate.

“We see a lot of people moving up out of the metro area and into the smaller communities,” Lebsack told CBS4’S Dillon Thomas.

More than 99,000 vehicles drive past the Johnstown interchange every day.

“We feel like if we can get retail and business here, and jobs to locate here, that can take some pressure off of people having to commute. Maybe it is good for the environment,” Lebsack said. “With 42,000 homes comes a need, and people like to shop close to home. It is definitely a need for our community.”

Since 2000 the town of Johnstown has seen their population grow seven times larger than it was. The new development at I-25 and Highway 60 could soon house more people than what the town’s entire population was in 2000.

Lebsack said the new project will prioritize providing housing for people of all economic backgrounds, from starter homes to high end housing.

(credit: CBS)

One company, Murdoch’s, has already committed to building in the new retail area.

This isn’t the first time Johnstown has developed along major roadways. In the last decade the town developed a major shopping center near I-25 and US-34. The shopping area, which includes one of Colorado’s largest stores in Scheels, has benifited locals who wish to see the community stay small.

In 2021, using sales tax revenue from the shopping complex, the town paid cash for a multi-million dollar recreation center in the heart of their downtown area.

Lebsack said a recent voter-imposed sales tax increase was designed to help rebuild and improve roadways. The new development could help the town fund their roadway repairs with ease.

“Growth is going to happen. If we don’t take part in that someone else is going to do it,” Lebsack said.

Dillon Thomas