Mar 072004
 
Authors: James Baetke

The soil is already beginning to shift in Loveland, Colo., where

Interstate 25 and U.S. 34 meet for the construction of a new

lifestyle center mall, which is part of a 3,000 acre mixed-use,

master planned community known as Centerra.

The new-concept lifestyle center will be host to hotels,

restaurants, office buildings, shopping, residential housing and a

medical complex. Lifestyle centers are a relatively new concept

where residential, office and shopping real estate are mixed.

Fort Collins city officials are still unsure whether they will

build a similar shopping complex on the Harmony Road Corridor at

the intersection of Ziegler. At stake is an estimated $41 million

loss in revenue if a center opens in Loveland and not in Fort

Collins.

Bayer Properties, based in Alabama, is in discussions with Fort

Collins City Manager John Fischbach and the city’s finance

department to solidify the proposed $70 million project, which will

cover 450,000 square-feet.

Before any such deal is concrete, the City Council must approve

possible incentives and public financing.

City council member Karen Weitkunat of District 2, said she does

not know whether a lifestyle center will even be built in Fort

Collins.

“There are so many variables. I tend to be optimistic, but I do

not have a crystal ball,” Weitkunat said.

Weitkunat and other city council members are sure of one thing:

Fort Collins will not grant Bayer Properties a contract as did the

City of Loveland to its developer.

“To sell the farm, I’ve never supported that,” Weitkunat

said.

The Loveland City Council unanimously approved an incentive

package earlier this year for Loveland-based developer McWhinney

Enterprises for 1,300 acres of undeveloped land in the 3,000-acre

Centerra development.

A 1.25 percent city sales tax credit and new property taxes from

an urban renewal project are expected to generate $591 million. The

deal will create about $5 million a year in city taxes during the

next 25 years and about $15 million a year after that, city finance

officials estimate.

“Incentives can be as simple as waiving a street fee,” Weitkunat

said, who insisted she will look at all the variables in building a

Fort Collins lifestyle center and make a decision based on what

they market will probably hold.

David May, president of the Fort Collins area Chamber of

Commerce, said the market will make the decision on whether

Northern Colorado could bare two large shopping centers. The key,

he said, is whether enough people have enough disposable income to

support additional retail.

May said Fort Collins has typically made good economic decisions

of this sort and that it’s fortunate the city is not falling into

an economic slump like Boulder.

May said generating new business is important to keeping a city

alive, and Boulder failed to do that when they did not understand

the concept of competition, like in the nearby city of Broomfield

where a new mall emerged a few years ago.

“There is competition (between Fort Collins and Loveland) in the

sense Fort Collins has been the retail sales center of Northern

Colorado,” May said.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.