JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — Residents on the west side of Jefferson County, particularly in Westminster and Arvada, have certainly seen it. It’s a pipe structure that reaches more than 120 feet in the air near the intersection of Highway 72 and Highway 93.
Some residents in the area have questioned what it is or called it an eyesore, while others say it points the way home.
But the lift pipe structure, as it is known, is really part of a 70-acre property with a 40-year history that could have a future as a training ground for industry.
“It is one of the neatest properties on the planet,” said Joe Dunn, president of CRESCO Properties, a commercial real estate agency. “You can see it from anywhere in Denver, and it has incredible possibilities.”
Dunn’s company helped with the sale of the property to the Ralston Development Corporation in 1987. Linda Lacy now owns that corporation, after taking it over from her father. She says they bought the property that included the lift pipe structure from an oil shale corporation known as Tosco, who left town immediately, leaving everything behind, including their coffee cups.
Back in the late 1980s, there wasn’t much around the property. But now, homes and other businesses have started to pop up, stirring a lot of conversation about the lift pipe structure.
“When they were first building all the new homes around this facility, I was accused of setting off rocket ships at night,” Lacy said.
While the lift pipe structure hasn’t been in use for years for its original intent of oil share production, it does still have some life. Dunn said some film students from the University of Colorado shot a movie there, and it was also a test site recently for a life safety robot for oil refinery maintenance.
A few years back, the plan was to sell the property to a developer who would have torn down the lift pipe and built homes, but that deal never came together. The hope now is to find a buyer who can use the land for scientific and industrial research.
“It’s like if you’re at a high school, every high school has to have a practice area,” Dunn said. “Well, this is industry’s practice area right here.”
If and when the property eventually sells, Lacy remains hopeful that the lift pipe structure will endure and remain a fixture in the area.
“I hope that [the community] still considers it a landmark to find their home because there’s a lot of houses being built out there, and I think it will help a lot of people find their way,” she said.