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Council approves tax-sharing agreement

 

Last updated 9/2/2020 at 10:50am

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Fountain City Hall was lit up in purple last week to commemorate Women's Equality Day and the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

The Fountain City Council has approved a new initiative that officials hope will encourage developments in the vacant area south of Mesa Ridge Parkway between Fountain Mesa Road and Highway 85/87.

Last Tuesday the council voted to approve an "Infill Infrastructure Tax Sharing Agreement" (TSA) that allows developers to get back a portion of the city's tax revenues during businesses' first five years in exchange for firm commitments to construct revenue-generating projects and help paying for utility connections to the currently under-connected properties.

Kimberly Bailey, Fountain's economic development director, called the collection of properties – owned by three landowners – an infill area that leaks commercial development, along with potential revenue, to other areas. The plan aims to retain potential businesses that are concerned about the lack of water and electric connections to many of the parcels.

Although it's a "highly desired area" from a tenant perspective, there are many who are hesitant about setting up shop due to concerns about the area's sustainability – largely due to the utility connections issue.

Bailey said this TSA is a cooperative effort between the city and developers to tackle that $2.9 million infrastructure deficit in this 367-acre collection, "which is significantly impeding private development, inflicting consumer leakage, and restricting commercial services fulfillment intended to serve the community."

The resolution also places the "brunt of extensive off-site public improvements at the intersection of Mesa Ridge and Syracuse" on the developers. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will require roughly $700,000 worth of work at this corner.

A portion of tax revenues will go into an escrow account to pay for additional infrastructure build-out, while the rest goes into the General Fund as usual.

A "kickstarter" project that is ready to go if the city participates in this agreement would build lots 1-4 of an 11-lot space on 24 acres between Hwy. 85/87 and Syracuse Street. Designated primarily for medical use, the initial development would be some type of retail or general services with frontage along Mesa Ridge Parkway, Bailey said. The developer is listed as Evergreen Development Co .; the exact business is not yet known.

This project could pave the way for what Bailey called "premier medical providers" who are desperately needed in this region but who hesitated to develop here due to the lack of infrastructure.

"This can be both a band-aid solution to facilitate kickstarter development on perimeters, but also support long-term plans by way of needed infrastructure funding," Bailey said.

This TSA has been discussed by multiple city departments, landowners and utility providers. Three major landowners have owned this area for multiple decades.

The segments of undeveloped property north of Mesa Ridge Parkway are not included in this TSA because they derive services from a different source.

This first kickstarter project has already completed the city planning process, is anticipated to complete land acquisition this month, and could begin vertical construction in December or early 2021.

Mayor Gabe Ortega said many residents will be pleased to see some action taken to facilitate development here, but noted that there will be opposition.

"This area has been in the works for a development for years," Ortega said. "I just want the public to understand that development is coming to this area. ... I just want people to understand that people own these plots of property and they do plan on doing something with them."

He said potential developers have balked at the hurdles in this area, and this TSA is an opportunity to share the load among those interested.

"This is growth paying their way on this one," he said. "I think it's going to be a win-win for everybody in the end when it's all built out. It could be years down the road, I want to clear about that as well. Just because this has happened doesn't mean in a year this whole area is going to be all built out. It's not; it's going to take time."

Changes to Trunk or Treat, military banners

This section of land just west of Syracuse Street and south of Mesa Ridge Parkway could be developed soon now that the City Council has approved a tax-sharing agreement designed to help pay for utility connections for businesses.

In other business, the council heard an update about the city's plans for its annual Trunk or Treat event, traditionally held downtown around City Hall. This year's event is moving to Metcalfe Park and will be drive-through style with participating businesses helping to hand out candy and plenty of decorations. More details will be coming soon, but it has been scheduled for Oct. 30. Businesses are encouraged to contact City Hall if they wish to participate.

The council also voted to approve changes to the city's Military Appreciation Banner Program that would open eligibility for banners to all Active, Reserve and National Guard servicemembers as well as Honorably Discarded Veterans.

The city typically promotes the banners closer to Veterans Day and hangs up new banners after the holiday season. More details on eligibility and how to apply may be found on the city's website, http://www.fountaincolorado.org.

 

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