Loveland to move ahead on Centerra South without Larimer County consent

LOVELAND — The city of Loveland will move ahead on the Centerra South development, which might include a new urban renewal area, without the concurrence of Larimer County.

In an early morning directive to city staff, members of the Loveland City Council returned from an executive session and instructed staff to proceed to negotiate with the Loveland Urban Renewal Authority using Subsection E of state urban renewal law. Council member Don Overcash, reading from a document prepared by city attorney Moses Garcia, said that Subsection E permits the city to move ahead without the consent of other taxing authorities when the land was in an urban renewal area prior to 2010 and when the other taxing districts have not agreed to the new urban renewal plan. Thompson School District has already approved of the plan.

Centerra South has been part of the U.S. 34/Crossroads Corridor Urban Renewal plan since 2004. The developer has asked to have it removed from that URA and included in a new URA that would have a 25-year window for development. The Crossroads URA will expire in 2029.

“Larimer County appears unwilling to consent,” Overcash read from the document. “The city can move forward without consent” and allow the taxing entities — county, school district, and special districts — to focus on tax sharing negotiations.

That statement resulted from consensus of the City Council during executive session, Overcash said, and was presented to staff at 12:22 a.m. Wednesday after a lengthy public and private meeting at which the Centerra South development plan was presented for both the council and the LURA board. The LURA board now includes representatives from the other taxing entities that would be affected by tax sharing arrangements driven by the property’s inclusion in a new urban renewal area.

“The city’s goal is to be collaborative, seeking feedback and consent from all involved governmental partners throughout this process,” Steve Adams, Loveland city manager, said in a press statement delivered to BizWest on Friday. “Understanding that might not be possible, the state’s urban renewal law provides the city with a legal alternative to move forward with the negotiation process.”

The council’s direction allows the city to negotiate on tax-sharing agreements instead of negotiating over whether the agricultural land on which Centerra South will be built should be included in an urban renewal area, the city statement said.

Going into executive session was not without disagreement. Mayor Jacki Marsh wanted to ask questions while still in public session; she feared that if she were to wait until after executive session she would be precluded from asking questions in public about things discussed in executive session. She was the lone vote against going into executive session, and she chose not to attend the private session.

The council during a public comment period early in the meeting heard from people both for and against the Centerra South development. The council and LURA board also heard a presentation on the development that answered questions from the city’s perspective on whether use of urban renewal law is appropriate and whether it is fair to the city and other taxing entities.

City staff members and consultants hired to conduct a review of the proposal concluded that Centerra South will not raise taxes on existing residents of the city or county unless they choose to shop there, will result in more tax revenue — even after a revenue share and expenses for new services — for all of the taxing entities, and all new services will be paid by the development.

According to the presentation to the council, total cost of developing Centerra South will be $1.049 billion with 50% of that paid by construction debt borne by the developer, 35% paid by construction equity paid by the developer, and $155 million, or 15%, paid by public investment.

Of that public investment, 40% will come through tax increment financing through LURA, 49% will be paid by new metro districts created within the development, and 11% through a public improvement fee (a 1.25% tax on retail sales made in that area.)

Annual property taxes on the ag land now are $118,000 per year. At buildout, property taxes collected will be $272.3 million per year.

The consultants determined that all governmental entities — including the state of Colorado, which would backfill any school property taxes diverted to the project — will end up with more revenue than they would without the development.

Source: BizWest

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