The developer of Lincoln Place wants to drop the public parking portion of the development but is still asking for $689,289 hard costs for â€œpublic improvementsâ€� not including the designer fees, management fees and utility expenses that bring the total proposed government subsidy to $1,028,894 for Lincoln Place. If the total costs of the project have now come to $17,000,000 than the government subsidy being requested constitutes approximately 6% of the total project costs.
Some residents feel this constitutes the old â€œbait & switchâ€� where the project is selected, approved and promoted on the promise it will contribute â€œpublic parkingâ€� for the downtown area. While the subsidy going directly for the parking garage will likely be excluded from the newly revised agreement going back to the City Council for approval, the developer appears to have found some additional reasons to ask for public monies for the project.
According to the City Manager, Don Williams, â€œIt is important to keep in mind that even under the original agreement there was nothing that absolutely required the developer to build the public parking. It only provided that if they wanted access to the public funds they had to make it public.â€�
Clearly this is a legal question only those most familiar with the negotiations, agreements and relevant law are best qualified to answer. The public parking was never contemplated in any of the media coverage as an option nor advertised to the community this way either. Nonetheless, if the agreement allowed one party to unilaterally change the terms of their anticipated contributions than maybe the word partnership isnâ€™t being properly used when public officials refer to the relationship between the Lincoln Place development and the Redevelopment Authority.
In fact, the standard language being provided in the current agreement going back to Council also says:
(AMENDED AND RESTATED MASTER FINANCING AGREEMENT FOR BLOCK 41- FINLEYâ€™S ADDITION URBAN RENEWAL PLAN AREA):
"No Partnership. Nothing contained in this Agreement shall be construed to create a partnership, joint venture or other joint enterprise between or among any of the Parties "
If the public is confused it is because both the City Council and Redevelopment Authority for the City of Loveland call the Lincoln Place project a â€œpublic/private partnershipâ€� when discussing the agreement at meetings, in comments to the media and on their websites.
What â€œPublic Improvementsâ€� Are We Being Asked To Pay For Through Taxes At Lincoln Place?
Below is the list of improvements the developer is asking the City of Loveland to include in the newly drafted resolution:
â€œPublic Improvements. Developer has Constructed or will Construct the following Public Improvements within the Finley Addition Plan Area, as more particularly described on Exhibit B: (a) street and safety protection improvements, including curbs, gutters, culverts and other drainage facilities, sidewalks, pedestrian ways, lighting; grading, irrigation, landscape, streetscape and entry ways, traffic and safety controls and devices, together with all necessary, incidental and appurtenant facilities, (b) sanitation improvements, including a sewer main, together with all necessary, incidental and appurtenant facilities; and (c) park and recreation improvements, including pedestrian ways, a central plaza area, open space and landscaping, together with all necessary and incidental and appurtenant facilities.â€�
Have They Proposed Any Other Changes To The Agreement Going Back To Council Other Than Removing The Public Parking?
On December 14, 2006, Keirstin Beck, an attorney with the firm Packard and Dierking of Boulder, wrote an email to Loveland City Attorney John Duval proposing other changes to the agreement not related to the parking garage. If you want to see a biography and picture of Ms. Beck online click here. Below is an excerpt from Beckâ€™s email to the City Attorney regarding the previously named â€œpublic plaza.â€�
â€œI have one initial comment regarding the plaza area in the center of the project. The previous agreement appears to include this plaza area as part of the public improvements. I changed the name from public plaza area to central plaza area in the document and included it within the definition of public improvements. However, we did not discuss this as an item that would be eligible for reimbursement since our drawing only included improvements on the exterior of the project. Please let us know your thoughts with respect to this improvement. We will want to retain ownership and maintain this area because we see this as an amenity to our retail tenants (possibly outdoor seating for the restaurants) but would like to seek reimbursement for it since it will still be an area open for public use.â€�
It is fairly common practice for historical societies and other agencies using public funds for restoration or improvement of private property to only use public funds for improvements to areas that can be â€œseenâ€� by the public and/or â€œusedâ€� by the public. If the area is indeed an â€œamenity to our retail tenantsâ€� that the developer owns and controls access to it than it may not necessarily meet the definition of â€œpublic use.â€� However, if the City Council did vote to authorize public monies for the now â€œCentralâ€� instead of â€œPublicâ €� plaza it may restrict the ability of the commercial tenants or landowner to prohibit the use of the space by the homeless, petition drives, charity fundraisers and other activities normally unrestricted in â€œpublic places.â€�
As of late January it isnâ€™t clear if the City Attorney or City Manager have communicated any response to the developer regarding this request. It is clear the plaza issue plus the $80,000 in use tax waivers already received are being negotiated between city staff and the developer. What will be proposed to the City Council appears to be undetermined at this time.
Can I See The Numbers And Line Items On This Project For What Will Be Subsidized?
Yes, you can see the excel spreadsheet provided to the City Attorney by the attorney for the developer by clicking here.
Lincoln Place under construction
Developer to Drop "Public" From Parking Garage Still Looking For Tax Dollars To Fund Other Parts of Project January 26, 2007