Desperate to create an engine for tax money, City Council is set to designate 200 acres of brush and dirt in northern Colorado Springs as an urban renewal area, perhaps as early as next week.
The label would enable the city to grant the Copper Ridge retail development tax increment financing. That would mean that sales and property tax money generated by the development could go to pay for a four-mile, $80 million extension of Powers Boulevard from Highway 83 to Interstate 25.
But the city might be getting ahead of itself. City officials claim they have agreements with El Paso County and Academy School District 20 to forego their shares of tax money to build the Powers segment. County Commissioner Jim Bensberg, though, says, “There is no agreement, tacit or otherwise, with the city.”
Councilman Darryl Glenn counters that “there is an understanding that we’re going forward with this project,” and says Council already has met in closed session on the project and will give it the green light within weeks. Glenn also says urban renewal designation, ruled appropriate by a consultant, is needed to enable a project he’s sure will keep shoppers, and tax money, here while at the same time providing the city’s “last best chance” to finish Powers. He says the state has put off the project indefinitely.
“When you look at the strategic importance of this project, it’s vital that we support this effort,” he says.
All that has University Village developer Kevin Kratt and some Urban Renewal Authority board members nervous. Authority staffer Jim Rees says they fret that Copper Ridge will cut into Kratt’s action by luring potential tenants, reducing the traffic and sales tax collections there, and thus jeopardizing the $54 million in bonds already issued for the half-done project and another $50 million that might be issued.
Glenn dismisses those concerns, saying Copper Ridge will attract “a different mix” of tenants than University Village: “It’s a win-win-win project for everyone."
Meantime, the Urban Renewal Authority board sent Council a memo last week questioning the Copper Ridge project: urban_renewal_letter.pdf
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