LOVELAND, Colorado – A planned billion-dollar development for Loveland promises to create hundreds of jobs and boost the local economy.
But some local leaders are divided because the developer wants taxpayers to pay for infrastructure costs.
McWhinney, the Centerra mall developer, plans to build another massive project.
Centerra South would be located across from the original Centerra on 140 acres of land near Interstate 34 and I-25.
Plans call for 1,000 housing units and 700,000 square feet of commercial, municipal and office space.
Loveland Mayor Pro Tem and Ward 4 Councilman Don Overcash said it would provide a significant economic boost to the area.
“It’s really a huge project for us and for jobs,” Overcash said. “We are attracting, from what I understand, a primary employer from outside of Colorado to bring in over 400 jobs.”
The developer wants $147.5 million in taxes generated by the property over 25 years to be diverted to pay for site infrastructure, including road construction and water and sewer services.
This type of financing is made possible thanks to an urban renewal plan.
Urban renewal plans are common throughout Colorado.
They provide public grants to private developers to help fund projects that officials believe will benefit their communities.
Critics argue that urban renewal plans are overused and a boondoggle for businesses.
“Only people who live in this area, who shop in this area, or choose to do business and operate their business in this area, will pay for this infrastructure,” Overcash said. “So no revenue from anywhere else in the city will be used to pay for the infrastructure.”
Overcash said taxpayers’ money used for infrastructure will be repaid many times over.
But Loveland Mayor Jacki Marsh said taxpayers’ money should not be used to help a private developer like McWhinney.
“They continually come to us with their outstretched hand,” Marsh said. “We don’t do this with other developers. Where are the level playing fields? »
Marsh said she was not opposed to Centerra South itself.
“I think a lot of things will be good for Loveland,” Marsh said. “I am against funding.
She accused city council members of showing favoritism to McWhinney.
“I would say it’s undeniable if you look at the access this particular developer gets to the city manager, economic development, planning department, or finance department,” Marsh said. “I literally had employees tell me they didn’t know who they were working for. Do they work for the McWhinneys? Or do they work for the city? Sometimes it’s not clear. »
Overcash said the mayor’s accusations of patronage were false.
He described the mayor as “anti-McWhinney” and “anti-Centerra.”
“She’s been making innuendos like this for quite a while. We’ve gotten used to it a bit, but it’s very frustrating,” Overcash said.
Some believe a bill out of the governor’s office could potentially derail the project because it would mean the developer would have to get county approval to include farmland in an urban renewal zone.
Sarah Mercer, an attorney who represents McWhinney, said the bill will not prevent the project from moving forward.
“Our legal analysis is that Senate Bill 273, even if the Governor signs it, will not apply to this bill,” Mercer said, noting that the effective date applies to plans for urban renewal which are approved on or after the date of entry into force of the legislation. .
“And because the governor did not sign the plan, this bill will no longer apply to this particular project,” Mercer said.
Loveland City Council overwhelmingly approved the Centerra South Urban Renewal Area in a 7-2 vote.
They also approved the funding deal last week.
Overcash said it would vote on another funding mechanism on June 6.
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