oped

The truth about the Olde Town Residences development

Posted 5/23/18

Earlier this spring, the Arvada City Council approved what has certainly been a controversial proposal on the nine acres of blighted land near Wadsworth Boulevard and West 56th Avenue, along the RTD …

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oped

The truth about the Olde Town Residences development

Posted

Earlier this spring, the Arvada City Council approved what has certainly been a controversial proposal on the nine acres of blighted land near Wadsworth Boulevard and West 56th Avenue, along the RTD G line in Olde Town.

The city of Arvada has worked for more than a decade on the future of this parcel.

There has been a lot said about this parcel and the significant efforts to redevelop it. And throughout the process, there have been truths, and there have been half-truths.

One claim in particular, the $30 Land Deal, does not even rise to the level of a half-truth, and here’s why.

When the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority (AURA), the city of Arvada and the Regional Transportation District (RTD) sought a developer to carry out the vision of a transit-oriented development adjacent to the Olde Town Transit Hub, they knew it would be a difficult task.

This site is the very definition of blight and even attracted a homeless encampment.

Several qualified groups made proposals for the property, and at all times, it was obvious that the development problems with the nine-acre site meant that for a meaningful project to occur, assistance with the land and some tax incentives would be necessary to encourage a multi-million dollar investment from a private developer.

That is what public-private partnerships are about. The public partners on the 9-acre site have agreed to contribute real property, which has significant issues, including a steep slope and a large storm-storm sewer line that cannot be built on or will have to be relocated.

For this first phase of redevelopment, AURA will be rebating the property-tax increment generated by the new development up to $4.3 million over the next 13 years.

What do citizens receive in exchange? Arvadans get 252 new housing units in the Olde Town Residences with the new residents having an estimated total annual income of about $16 million.

The developer will invest more than $75 million into a project that meets the expectations of Arvada’s Transit Station Framework Plan, including structured parking versus a sea of surface parking plus the installation of many public improvements.

The developer will create public amenities such as parks and public spaces, a dog park, and streetscapes along 56th Avenue and Vance Street, linking New Town to Olde Town. In addition, landscaping and trees will significantly improve areas along Wadsworth Bypass and the railroad tracks.

These new residents are projected to spend $2.8 million a year in Arvada, supporting local retailers, restaurants and other businesses in our community.

In addition, the projections show that the city of Arvada will receive at least $566,000 a year in new taxes and fees paid by these residents. The Arvada Chamber of Commerce recognizes these clear benefits and endorsed this project.

$30 Land Deal? No. The truth of the matter is that the developer will invest more than 93 percent of the cost of this project, which will generate an estimated $8.5 million in new tax dollars over the next 15 years.

So here’s a truth: This is clearly the kind of public-private investment that will support the infrastructure, City services, public safety, and park and cultural facilities that make our community so great.

Arvada should want this type of investment and redevelopment on our blighted parcels. And I thank my fellow City Council members for supporting this significant effort with its 6-1 vote at our most recent Council meeting.

There is a small group of vocal critics of this opportunity. To try to halt this redevelopment, they focused on the term “$30 Land Deal.” Instead, we should not use this opportunity as a scapegoat for concerns about how our community should responsibly plan for growth.

There’s also a handful of critics who would prefer to leave this blighted land exactly as it is.

I flat-out disagree. For the city to do nothing with this property is unacceptable. It would betray our responsibility to all our citizens to put what is ultimately their asset to its best and highest use — as an investment in our future.

I encourage you to learn more about this project by visiting AURA’s project page at arvadaurbanrenewal.org/projects/9-acre-tod-site.

And please contact me at any point if you would like to discuss this project and other issues facing the City of Arvada.

Marc Williams is the mayor of the city of Arvada.

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