Loveland, Colo. A billion dollar development project planned 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.
McWhinney, developer of the Centerra shopping mall, is planning to build another mega project.
Centerra South is located across the street from the original Centerra on 140 acres of land near Interstate 34 and I-25.
Plans call for 1,000 residential units and 700,000 square feet of commercial, civic, and office space.
Loveland Pro Team Mayor and Ward4 City Councilor Don Overcash said it would provide a major economic boost for the area.
“It’s a really huge project for us and jobs,” Overcash said. “We are attracting, as far as I understand, a primary employer from outside of Colorado to create over 400 jobs.”
The developer wants $147.5 million in taxes generated from the property to be diverted over 25 years to pay for site infrastructure, including road construction and water and sewer services.
This type of financing is possible through the 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 the urban renewal plans are overused and amount to corporate luxury.
“Only the 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 that infrastructure,” Overcash said. “So no revenue from anywhere else in the city will be earmarked to pay for infrastructure.”
He said the overpayment of taxpayers’ money used for infrastructure will be repaid many times over.
But Loveland Mayor Jackie Marsh said taxpayer money should not be used to help a private developer like McWhinney.
“They come to us all the time with their hands out,” Marsh said. “We don’t do that to other developers. Where is the level playing field?”
Marsh said she is not against Centra South itself.
“I think a lot of the elements are going to be good for Loveland,” Marsh said. “I am against financing.”
It accused city council members of showing favoritism to Makweni.
“I would say this is undeniable if you look at the access that particular developer gets to the city manager or the department of economic development or planning or financial management,” Marsh said. “I’ve already had employees tell me they don’t know who they work for. Do they work for the McInnis? Or do they work for the city? Sometimes it’s not obvious.”
Overkach said the mayor’s accusations of nepotism were untrue.
He described the mayor as “anti-Makweni” and “anti-Sintra”.
“She’s been making hints like that for a long time. We’re somewhat used to it, but it’s just so frustrating.”
Some believe that a bill on the governor’s desk could derail the project because it would mean that the developer would need to obtain county approval to include farmland in an urban renewal zone.
Sarah Mercer, the attorney representing McWeenie, said the bill would not prevent the project from moving forward.
“Our legal analysis is that Senate Bill 273, even if the governor signed it, would not apply to this bill,” Mercer said, noting that the effective date applies to urban renewal plans that are approved on or after the legislation’s effective date. .
“And because the governor did not sign the plan, this bill will no longer apply to this particular bill,” Mercer said.
The Loveland City Council overwhelmingly approved the Centerra South urban renewal district in a 7-2 vote.
They also approved the financing agreement last week.
Overcash said they would vote on another funding mechanism on June 6.
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