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Walmart meeting cancelled after councilmembers oppose tax-increment deal

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For a while, it looked like Walmart had Denver in the bag. But now, developers are going back to the drawing board...or at least the calender. After Denver City Council reps Mary Beth Susman and Jeanne Robb announced they opposed tax-increment financing for the project, the Colorado Boulevard Healthcare District cancelled next week's meeting.

Opponents of the project had already asked for a place at the podium at that October 4 meeting. They had not received a response to their request when a notice went out yesterday from the CBHD, which has been coordinating the neighborhood project, putting that meeting on hold:

Dear CBHD Board Members and Guests:

Based on Councilwomen Susman and Robb's statement that they will not support TIF for infrastructure costs for the currently proposed redevelopment plan of the former University of Colorado Health Sciences site at 9th and Colorado Blvd., we have decided to cancel the October 4th meeting of the Colorado Blvd. Healthcare District, pending more information from the Developer.

The meeting's intent was for public comment on the plan in front of the Board, but since that plan included a request for DURA financing as part of its approval, and with the unlikely success of a City Council vote on the same, and lacking a modified proposal from the Developer, the reason to meet becomes moot.

The next scheduled meeting after October 4th, is to be held on November 1st. Please watch your emails as to the status of that meeting as well.

Thank you for your interest and continued participation in the CBHD meetings. We will keep you fully informed about any new information or updated plans we receive about the development.

Mary Nell Wolff, Chair
Colorado Blvd. Healthcare District Board

Susman is president of Denver City Council and the rep for the 5th District, while Robb is councilwoman for the 10th; both districts border Colorado Boulevard. The cancellation notice came three days after the two councilwomen announced that they were opposing tax-increment financing for the proposed development -- a powerful obstacle for the project's proponents to overcome. Here's their announcement:
(DENVER) Councilwoman Mary Beth Susman and Councilwoman Jeanne Robb announced today that they will not support tax increment financing for the redevelopment as currently proposed at 9th and Colorado by Fuqua Development. The Councilwomen's joint statement follows:

"We respect the hard work of the Colorado Boulevard Health Care District (CBHCD), the City's Department of Community Planning & Development (CPD), the Denver Urban Renewal Authority (DURA), and the developer to facilitate the redevelopment of this key site. We also want to thank our constituents for all the ideas and input.

Plans for redevelopment of the former Health Sciences Center site owned by the University of Colorado (CU) have been in progress since 2003. In that time, different developers offered site plans that evolved with the developer and the economy. The initial balanced, mixed-use project became more retail-oriented through the years. The proposed insertion of Wal-Mart as anchor tenant created a tipping point for new scrutiny of the project that needs a greater mix of uses if it is to generate increases in retail sales for the area. We are concerned that the project as proposed is more likely to draw from other retail in the area, thus not producing a true tax increment.

Our constituents have made their concerns about the current proposal known, and we respect their views.

We intend to continue working with our communities, CU, this developer or a future developer, the CBHCD, and the City administration to find a viable alternative."

Pack your bags.

While neighbors are fighting the proposed Walmart, they've been celebrating the Trader Joe's going in a block away. Is this a sign of which way this state is swinging? See our list "Blue State v. Red State: Which Colorado do you live in?"




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3 comments
davebarnes
davebarnes topcommenter

People are batshit because it is a Walmart.

How about being upset that 100K sqft is not a "neighborhood market"?

How about being upset that the original number of proposed dwelling units has plummeted from 1400 to 400? Is zero next?

How about being upset that this proposal is in no way "Main Street Zoning" in appearance?

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

The stated rationale for reconsidering Tax Increment Financing makes sense, and I share the antipathy of many towards Walmart's rapaciously capitalistic business practices, especially with regard to workers' right to unionize and employees' welfare.  I feel however that fighting the siting of Walmarts is substantially a displacement of effort which ahould go towards prohibiting the bad business practices which make Walmart a bad neighbor, and towards the creation of viable alternative models of getting goods to consumers.  Walmart's ability to sell a wide variety of goods and to undercut competitors on price is a formidable challenge to competitors, but they are achieving their market superiority in part through the exploitation of employees.  It might not resolve all concerns about Walmart, but prosecuting its executives for violating labor law would go a long way towards dealing with the problem -- too bad that so many Americans perversely oppose workers' right to organize to demand better working conditions and wages!

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

 @davebarnes Interesting post, Dave -- one we're going to make an upcoming Comment of the Day. Thanks.

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