Monday, January 30, 2012

The Urban Renewal Authority: Love it, hate it, or fix it

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 5:04 PM

Plans for Ivywild.
  • Plans for Ivywild.

The Urban Renewal Authority has seen better days.

It's taken quite a beating in the Gazette as of late. There was the revelation that the University Village Shopping Center hasn't produced as much dough as planned, leading to a likely default on some of the Authority's bonds. And then there was the spat between the mayor and a member of the Urban Renewal board, after the mayor accused the board of trying to milk more than a million out of the Ivywild school project, a project whose total costs are only around $3 million. The board member denied the claim.

So is it true? Is the Urban Renewal Authority run by a bunch of incompetent money handlers and moochers? That's hard to say. Sure, some might argue that the Authority should have seen the worsening economy coming when issuing those shopping center bonds, but it certainly wasn't the only entity to bet wrong in this economy. Apparently, the whole thing can be resolved through some reworking of the payment schedule.

And then there's the Ivywild issue. The Indy talked to Mike Bristol, who is heading up the Ivywild project, last week about the tussle. Bristol confirmed that original estimates called for more than a million in fees, but says that was early in the process. Bristol said he and his partners simply requested lower fees, noting that theirs was a smaller project than the Authority was used to. The Authority knocked the fees down to about $450,000.

Bristol doesn't recall the mayor's office being involved in the process at that point, so Bach may have had it wrong when he claimed it was his office that got the fee lowered from that sky-high first estimate. But Bristol noted that mayoral employee Steve Cox did contact him last month and worked with him to get the fees halved again. He was grateful for the help.

"The mayor's office, they sort of balked at the fees and we did too," Bristol said. "And so we were able to come to an agreement with them."

The point of this story is this: If, after reading this, you still think the Urban Renewal Authority needs serious help, there is something you can do: Volunteer for the board. Vacancies are waiting to be filled.

Urban Renewal Authority seeks volunteers

The Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority is looking for interested citizens to fill vacancies on the Urban Renewal Board. The Urban Renewal Authority is looking for applicants with backgrounds in finance, urban planning and real estate. Experience in redevelopment, master planning and familiarity with the City’s Development Review Process is desirable.

Send letters of interest and resumes no later than Friday, February 10 to mdevine@springsgov.com or mail to City Council; Attention Marti Devine Sletta; P.O. Box 1575; Colorado Springs, CO 80901.

Or, fill out the Application for Appointment to a City Board, Committee or Commission, which can be found at www.SpringsGov.com by clicking on “Commissions and Committees” on the homepage. (The application cannot be submitted online at this time. Please send to the e-mail or physical address above.) For questions or more information, please call (719) 385-5453.

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