Fitzmorris Pool Update – City to Coordinate Neighborhood Input


by John Kiljan

At last night’s board meeting, the Apex Park & Recreation District kept a small Fitzmorris pool and rec center as a part of its bond-renewal package. Apex plans to bring the bond proposal to the voters in May of 2016. About 40 people sat in on the board meeting. Most attendees were tennis advocates who promised to campaign for the bond package and its six projects in the recreation district, but some were also advocates of the indoor warm-water therapy pool being added to a rebuilt Secrest Center. These types of pools are popular with senior citizens and those undergoing rehabilitation therapy when recovering from injuries.

Proposed Fitzmorris pool and rec center site

Proposed Fitzmorris pool and rec center site

Based on discussions with the City of Arvada, the City will take the lead in getting community input from local residents about the center’s design and its impact on Fitzmorris Park. If the bond proposal is successful, the City will be funding most of the new pool with its own financial and in-kind contributions. The pool will be built in the City-owned park pictured here.

The City is also considering a review of the future of the entire park – again with public input and consideration for what the adjacent school’s needs are for the property. A recent similar review of the nearby, and somewhat underused, Independence Park resulted in new paved walkway for local handicapped residents.

Here are a few quotes from the meeting that relate to Fitzmorris.

Executive Director Mike Miles:  “So, this evening is the last evening we’ll be taking the public input for this process.  To make any changes we’ll do that by the next board meeting and ultimately by, hopefully, the end of this month or early October, we’re approving a final package that will be developed for the bond election which we anticipate holding in May of 2016 at this point in time.”

Mike Miles:  “. . . and the City of Arvada, we had a conversation with them today, they are willing to step up and allocate $3.1 million for the Fitzmorris site pool.  So that adds a significant use to that.  So that only leaves us about $100,000 short of where we need to be.”

John Kiljan from the CLRC: [during public input]  “I’ll be brief.  I just wanted to say ‘thank you’ to the board for the package you put together.  The concepts proposed sound pretty good and very balanced.   Most of the people I’ve talked to were very pleased.  We also talked with the City of Arvada about the Fitzmorris Center, and they plan a fair amount of public input because it’s a public park.  And they are picking up, I guess, 65% of the construction costs, plus all the land as well that’s going along with it.  Generally, people were pretty happy.  My personal experience in talking with them in the seven years since the old Fisher Pool closed, people are really looking forward to this.  We hope it will pass.”

Director Jim Whitfield:  [during board member reports] “A few items here – one was, today, we had the coordinating committee meeting with the City of Arvada, and again, three important developments, one was the financial support for Fitzmorris that we talked about.  Another one was that, with regard, I think, to kind of the lead or getting the community input with regard to Fitzmorris, I think the City has indicated that they would like to take a lead on that.  So, we’ll support them as they need us to support them.  And then there was a long, lengthy discussion regarding Meyers Pool. . . .”

* * *

If the mill levy passes in May, there will be no increase in property tax rates for homeowners in the Apex parks and recreation district, and City taxes are also unaffected. The bond proposal is just an extension of an existing property tax levied by the recreation district.

WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
For some recent background information on the meeting, have a look at this article:

http://ralstoncommunity.org/2015/08/22/apex-to-present-fitzmorris-pool-plans-for-public-input-on-september-3rd/

Images for all six of the concept plans for the bond renewal can be seen at this link:

http://ralstoncommunity.org/2015/08/29/apex-announces-thursday-agenda-for-two-area-pools/

The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community is an independent neighborhood association representing the neighborhoods adjacent to Ralston Road from the Wadsworth Bypass to the Kipling Parkway.

You can read all of our articles on our main website at http://www.RalstonCommunity.org or you can read even more posts on our Facebook page at “CLRC – Citizens for a Liveable Ralston Community”. You can write to us, call us or email us at

CLRC
c/o John Kiljan, Secretary
6185 Field Street
Arvada, CO 80004

303-423-9875
jpkiljan@yahoo.com

September 4, 2015

 

 

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Triangle & AURA Meeting Notes


by John Kiljan

Dear CLRC members and friends,

At the AURA board meeting held Wednesday evening, September 2nd, not much new information was presented when doing project updates, except that Arvada’s urban renewal developments are still moving along at a fast clip. The upcoming October 7th meeting is being moved up to September 30th when it is anticipated that the Olde Town developments by Trammell Crow will be ready for board action, as will the Loftus development in the Triangle’s Arvada Square.

P1010927

Assuming the developer, Loftus, gets an agreement with AURA, they are asking that the remaining two tenants in the west part of Arvada Square (the liquor store and check-cashing business) be out by April 1st. That’s still not certain, but it would mean giving a six-month vacation notice to these tenants as soon as the beginning of next month.

The Walmart development across the street hit a snag when the developer, IRG, failed to give enough notice to Xcel Energy to shut off the power to the closed part of Arvada Plaza where Walmart will build its store starting in mid-October. You’d think a power shutoff would be as simple as throwing a switch – and apparently IRG thought that as well. But it’s not. Xcel needs many months of advance notice to schedule its crews for that kind of work and timely notice wasn’t given.

This threatened a substantial delay In Walmart’s groundbreaking, and it would give Walmart the option to abandon the Arvada site altogether under the terms of its contract with IRG. But earlier this week, Mayor Williams met with a dozen Xcel officials on the site and they agreed to set aside other projects to put the Arvada Plaza development back on schedule to turn the property over to Walmart for construction on October 15th. The Mayor credited a long working relationship with Xcel in getting them to agree to rework their schedule to get the Arvada Plaza work done in time.

Hilton Garden Inn hotel in Olde Town is now scheduled to go before the full City Council for approval on September 21st. This will be Olde Town’s first modern hotel. The developers are hoping to break ground as soon as next month.

The high-tier Solanana Olde Town Station apartments located just east of the Wadsworth Bypass on 56th Avenue have passed their last approval hurdles and will soon be scheduling a ground breaking.

WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community is an independent neighborhood association representing the neighborhoods adjacent to Ralston Road from the Wadsworth Bypass to the Kipling Parkway.

You can read all of our articles on our main website at http://www.RalstonCommunity.org or you can read even more posts on our Facebook page at “CLRC – Citizens for a Liveable Ralston Community”. You can write to us, call us or email us at

CLRC
c/o John Kiljan, Secretary
6185 Field Street
Arvada, CO 80004

303-423-9875
jpkiljan@yahoo.com

September 2, 2015

 

 

 

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Apex Announces Thursday Agenda for Two Area Pools


Included on the agenda are a proposal for a small recreation center with a pool at Fitzmorris Park and new hot-water therapy pool in a rebuilt Secrest recreation center.

FitzmorrisCenter2015FitzmorrisAsIs2015

APEX BOARD MEETING AGENDA
SEPTEMBER 3, 2015 – 6:30 P. M.
Apex CenterRandall Room
13150 West 72nd Avenue, Arvada, Colorado 80005

CALL TO ORDER

APPROVAL OF AGENDA AND ADDITION OF AGENDA ITEMS
(Emergency items and other public business for which notice was not possible may be considered.)

APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF AUGUST 20, 2015

PUBLIC INPUT
(Each speaker is asked to limit comments to 5 minutes and to please not repeat previous comments.)

OLD BUSINESS

  1. Proposed 2016 Election Projects – Mike Miles
    a. Apex Center
    b. Arvada Tennis Center
    c. Fitzmorris Park Center/Pool
    d. Long Lake Ranch Regional Park
    e. Lutz Sports Complex
    f. Secrest Center

PUBLIC COMMENT

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR REPORT

BOARD MEMBER REPORTS/INPUT

ADJOURNMENT

FitzmorrisCenterBuilding2015SecrestRecCenterBuildingSecrestRecCenterDrawingWHERE TO FIND OUT MORE

Please see our earlier article about the importance of this meeting at

http://ralstoncommunity.org/2015/08/22/apex-to-present-fitzmorris-pool-plans-for-public-input-on-september-3rd/

— CLRC

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11 Candidates Vie for 5 Arvada City Council Seats


by John Kiljan

[updated September 4, 2015]

Dear CLRC members and friends,

And they’re off! Monday was the deadline for Council candidates to turn in their Nomination Petitions, and we finally know who is running and who isn’t. The petitions have already been validated by the City Clerk’s office. Below is a list of all the candidates, where you can contact them, where you can send campaign donations and the URLs for their websites.

This is a somewhat unusual Arvada City Council election. Normally only three or four of the Council’s seven seats are up for election (or reelection) at a time. Those seats come open every two years, and it’s typical for one or two of them to have only one candidate running.

Not this time. With the abrupt resignation of newly reelected Councilor Rachel Zenzinger in Council District 1 in 2013 (who ran unopposed), the usual election order was thrown into disarray, and we now have five open seats with 11 candidates offering to fill them. Unless there is a change in the City Charter* or someone else resigns, things should get back to normal in the next election cycle two years from now when there will only be a more manageable three seats open for the City Council.

But the high number of candidates also means that voters have a lot to learn about who is running if they are to be thoughtful voters – or if they want to financially support a candidate outside of their own Council district. Every Council member gets to vote on every issue coming before them.

Voters will have plenty of time to decide. There should not be any last-minute rush on election day to decide who to vote for. This will be a mail-in only ballot. You just mark your ballot when you are ready and drop it into a drive-by box next to City Hall. Or, you can put a stamp on it and save even that bother.

Ballot Drop Boxes at City Hall

Ballot Drop Boxes at City Hall

 

So here’s the list of all 11 candidates courtesy of the City Clerk’s office and from other online sources:

*** 2015 Arvada City Council Candidates ***

For Mayor (four-year term):

Marc Williams (incumbent)
6781 Lupine Circle
Arvada, CO 80007
phones: 720-935-4979
303-424-4486/w
303-940-7593/h
email: mwilliams@arvadalaw.net
website: http://marcwilliamsformayor.com

David Chandler
7930 Kendall Street
Arvada, CO 80003
phone: 303-424-9897
email: dave@mayordave.us
website: www.MayorDave.us

For Councilmember At Large (four-year term):

Bob Fifer (incumbent)
11762 W 56th Circle
Arvada, CO 80002
phones: 303-650-4544/w
303-929-4278/h
email: bob@bobfifer.com
website: www.bobfifer.com

Kathy Drulard
10452 W 77th Place
Arvada, CO 80005
phones: 303-981-5690/w
303-422-3616/h
email: KathyDruArvada@aol.com 
website: www.kathydrulard.com

Carl Campanella
9145 Oberon Road, #214
Arvada, CO 80004
phone: 303-923-5119/w
720-514-3703/h
emails: d.Campanella@outlook.com
carl@carl4arvada.com
website: Carl4Arvada.com

For Councilmember District 1 (two-year term):

Jerry Marks (incumbent)
8250 Garland Drive
Arvada, CO 80005
phones: 303-423-9949/w
303-422-2744/h
303-810-0571
email: jmarks@customsvds.com
website: JerryMarks.info

Nancy Ford
8404 Everett Way, Unit C
Arvada, CO 80005
phones: 970-225-9136/w
303-325-3153/h
email: nFord@Fordresearchgroup.com
websites: www.fordresearchgroup.com
www.nancyford.com

Councilmember District 2 (four-year term):

Mark McGoff (incumbent)
7855 Allison Court
Arvada, CO 80005
phones: 303-945-0059/c
303-423-5258/h
email: mlmcg41@comcast.net
website: www.markmcgoff.com

David Palm
7029 Upham Street
Arvada, CO 80003
phones: 303-420-9859/h
720-663-7256
emails: davepalm@HackberryHill.net
dave@davepalm.com
websites: davepalm.com

Councilmember District 4 (four-year term):

Bob Dyer (incumbent)
7433 Queen Circle
Arvada, CO 80005
phones:  303-888-8041
303-423-8080/w
303-456-4646/h
email: bob@bobdyer.com
website: ElectBobDyer.com

David Jones
8498 Rogers Loop
Arvada, CO 80007
phones: 303-949-0452/w
303-273-0356/h
866-690-1936/f
email: DavidforArvada@gmail.com
website: DavidforArvada.com

WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
Bookmark this page and check for updates to this posting on RalstonCommunity.org, since candidates sometimes change their contact information or websites. We’ll also try to add some candidate portraits when we have them all, so you can put a face with a name.

The City of Arvada’s Clerk’s office has a handy webpage that you can use to follow such things as campaign contributions and other candidate filings. The first finance contribution reports should be added shortly after September 21st. Here’s the link:

https://arvada.org/pages/2015-candidates-and-election-forms

Also coming up are likely to be one or more candidates’ forums organized by the Chamber of Commerce or by other non-partisan organizations.   With every open seat being contested, we’ll try to post information about that on our neighborhood association website when find out about them and append them to this announcement when the information becomes available.

Some of the candidates are also active on Facebook pages to the point where those pages have become de facto campaign sites. And don’t forget, the CLRC’s steering committee will have its own question list for the candidates about issues they see as most important to the central Arvada neighborhoods.

*And more candidates in each election and more districts are possible. Some candidates are endorsing a platform to change the City Charter to increase the number of City Council members to 13 from the current seven members. That means six or seven seats would be up for election every two years.

And just as a reminder: “The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community does not endorse candidates for public office. However, we often post candidacy announcements, press releases, interviews and questionnaire responses for those running for office. And we encourage our members to actively support whatever candidate they choose during elections.”

August 25, 2015

[edit — Kathy Drulard’s email address corrected on 25 August 2015]
[update August 25, 2015 — Tracy Kraft-Tharp added this note: Thanks John. I’m having an informal candidate forum where people can chat 1-1 with candidates Sat Oct 17 11:30-1 Standley Lake library.” on August 25th]

[update September 4, 2015 — The Arvada Chamber of Commerce will host a candidate forum on Friday morning September 18, 2015.  The public is invited.  For details, see the Chamber’s website at ChamberBreakfast  ]

[Note:  Candidates and others can update the information on this posting by contacting the CLRC Secretary, John Kiljan, at jpkiljan@yahoo.com]

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Apex to Present Fitzmorris Pool Plans for Public Input on September 3rd


by John Kiljan

Dear CLRC members and friends,

[updated 25 August 2015]

The public comment period will be brief. At an August 20th Apex Park & Recreation District board meeting, the board was given a quick overview of what a replacement for the Fisher Pool might look like. The board is planning to give the public an opportunity for feedback at its next meeting scheduled for September 3rd at 6:30 pm. The board is then planning to formally approve its bond package concept at its following meeting scheduled for September 17th.

Included in the package will be a pool that looks smaller than Fisher used to be and [a] rec center at Fitzmorris Park adjacent to Fitzmorris elementary school. Also included in the package will be five other city-wide bond projects for public recreation. Here’s the list with each facilities’ estimated cost:

Arvada Tennis Center, $5.5 million
Long Lake Ranch, parking, light additions, $4.3 million
Lutz Field, renovation/reconfiguration, $4.3 million
Fitzmorris site center/pool, $4.8 million
Secrest site center, $7.8 million
Apex Center – renovation, splash pad addition, $1.5 million

Overall Fitzmorris Center site plan

Overall Fitzmorris Center site plan

COSTS
These amounts are tentative estimates figured by the architectural firm of Barker Rinker Seacat, who often does construction estimates for the recreation district. The list totals to $28.3 million, and Apex hopes to take the whole package to the voters in May of next year.

The amount expected to be raised from a bond renewal is only $25.0 million, leaving a $3.3 million shortfall. The current plan is for the Apex board to ask the Arvada City Council to use the $3.1 million it has set aside in their budget to replace the Fisher pool to be given instead to Apex to be used to cover the budget shortfall.

Apex, in turn, would cover the annual operational deficit that the Fitzmorris Center is expected to carry, since, even with user fees, it will not make a profit for the district. This is different than an earlier proposal by the Arvada City Manager that, if Apex would build the facility, the City could, in exchange, escrow the $3.1 million and use it to cover the operating deficit of a Fitzmorris recreation center.

The estimated cost to build the Fitzmorris Center is a bit surprising in a couple of different ways: The cost was more than an earlier estimate of $3.2 million to $4.0 million for the project. But that estimate seems to have been based upon the cost of a similar private facility built for the Candelas subdivision in west Arvada.

And the cost was also surprisingly low for a Fisher Pool replacement. Nine years ago, Apex went to the voters asking to bond a $6.9 million replacement for that pool that would not have included a recreation center, but would have included a 50-meter pool, aquatics play area and teen action slides.   No other issues were on the ballot; and, although it passed locally, the district-wide vote was 55% against the proposal.

But the proposed Fitzmorris Center would have an attached, year-round fee-based recreation facility that the previous bond proposal did not have. Outgoing Apex Executive Director Mike Miles said that the non-pool recreational elements were included to help make the facility more self-sustaining in its future operational expenses. The land in the Fitzmorris proposal would be provided for free by the City without a cost to the recreation district.

P1010937

TIMELINE
Apex hopes to go to the voters to renew its expiring bonds in May of 2016, but a delay to November of 2016 is still possible. The bond renewal will not be on this year’s November ballot.

If the proposal passes in May, a Fitzmorris rec center and outdoor pool may not be completed before the end of the 2017 summer season because of the needed lead time for planning, design and construction. That would mean a pool opening in early 2018 – 10 years after the old Fisher Pool was pulled out in 2008 and 13 years after it was shut down in 2005.

WHAT IS ACTUALLY IN THE CONCEPT PLAN?
That’s a little vague at this point. The August 20th presentation plan drawing included an outdoor pool with six straight lap lanes, a shallow pool option and a recreation facility that included a weights-and-fitness room, and a separate aerobics studio. This is just an 8500 square foot concept design. It was not clear whether the pool would have a deep end with diving board facilities as the old Fisher Pool in Ralston Central Park did.

From the concept, it also looks like the school will be getting a larger parking lot than it has now.

The photos of the meeting’s projection-screen images in this report were taken with a hand-held pocket camera that had a lot of lint caught in its lens. Hopefully, better quality imagery will be available to the public before the board gives its formal approval to the plan on September 17th.

PUBLIC INPUT AND CITY REACTION
Executive Director Mike Miles plans to give a half-hour PowerPoint presentation on all six proposed district facilities at its September 3rd meeting. The PowerPoint presentation will not be available to the public beforehand, so you really have to attend and pay attention if you want to comment at that meeting. Otherwise, your only opportunity to comment may be on September 17th when the board takes formal action.

Mr Miles said that, since the site is a City of Arvada park, Apex would be relying on the City to hold public meetings on the impact on the school and the local neighborhoods around Fitzmorris. City Parks director, Gordon Reusink, who was not at the meeting, later said that the City would coordinate future public meetings on the project with Apex. Mr Reusink also said that the City’s ongoing discussions with the school district were still being held at the staff-to-staff level. Nor has Apex’s cost-sharing proposal yet been scheduled for a discussion with the full City Council.

Just as a personal observation: the summer traffic generated by the outdoor pool should not be more than when the school is in session. The site approaches already have a good array of speed humps and stop signs to encourage traffic calming near the school. And, considering how much traffic and parking demand Ralston Central Park has generated on Garrison and Brooks Drive since it reopened, the overall effects on the larger neighborhood could well be very positive. However, the effects of traffic generated by the attached recreation facility during school hours are a little harder to predict since the neighborhood experiences high peaks when school starts and lets out each weekday.

WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
At this point, talking to an Apex Board of Directors member or an Arvada City Council member seems like the best option for getting more information. However, Director Whitfield was not present at this last meeting and may not be as well informed as the other Apex directors.

[Update:  Director Jim Whitfield has provided quality images of the six recreation proposals on his own website at

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Colorado.SDA.Apex.PRD/permalink/972489742801768/  ]

Retiring Apex Executive Director Mike Miles should still be available through the plan’s approval phase. No Arvada City Council members were present at the August 20th meeting, nor were any Arvada City Staff members. City Councilors Fifer and Allard (both At Large members) are the City’s official representatives to the Apex board.

The CLRC neighborhood association has covered the issue of a replacement for the Fisher Pool in Ralston Central Park (aka the North Jeffco Pool) since the organization was formed in 2010. Here are links to the most recent articles we’ve published:

http://ralstoncommunity.org/2015/06/01/city-apex-explore-fisher-pool-replacement-at-fitzmorris/

and

http://ralstoncommunity.org/2015/05/08/pool-and-recreation-center-comments-made-at-the-final-apex-public-input-meeting/

and

http://ralstoncommunity.org/2015/03/21/pool-or-no-pool-help-decide-arvadas-recreation-future-on-thursday/

And, as always, the Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community is an independent neighborhood association representing the neighborhoods adjacent to Ralston Road from the Wadsworth Bypass to the Kipling Parkway.

You can read all of our articles on our main website at http://www.RalstonCommunity.org or you can read even more posts on our Facebook page at “CLRC – Citizens for a Liveable Ralston Community”. You can write to us, call us or email us at

CLRC
c/o John Kiljan, Secretary
6185 Field Street
Arvada, CO 80004

303-423-9875
jpkiljan@yahoo.com

August 22, 2015

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Mark McGoff Announces He’s Running for Re-Election in City Council District 2


Incumbent Arvada City Council member Mark McGoff has announced that he is running for re-election in District 2. Here is the announcement for his kick-off event this Saturday. Council District 2 covers central Arvada east of Olde Wadsworth Boulevard to Sheridan, the southeast corner of Arvada and then running north up to the limits of Council District 1.

* * *

MMGWebPhoto

 Campaign Kick Off Event

for

Mark McGoff, Candidate for Re-election to Arvada City Council

Saturday, August 15, 2015

at

The Egg and I

8025 Sheridan Blvd

(In the King Soopers Shopping Center)

1:00 to 2:30 p.m.

At this event Mark will kick off his “On the Forward Path” campaign, discuss his accomplishments, and his areas of emphasis in a new term.

Mark says: “Arvada is truly a great city. From the energy and vibrancy of Olde Town, to the serene beauty of our parks and trails, to our family-oriented festivals and community events, to our thriving businesses, to our strong inclusive neighborhoods and friendly citizens, we are a city that responds to the needs and challenges of change in our community. Our best days are not somewhere in either a mythical or real past. Our best days are now – and in the future we are creating for all the citizens of Arvada. I ask you to support my re-election to the Arvada City Council so we can create the very best community together.”

# # #

For more information contact Mark McGoff at mlmcg41@comcast.net 303-423-5258 or you can go to the candidate’s campaign website at

www.markmcgoff.com

* * *

And, as always, “The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community does not endorse candidates for public office. However, we often post candidacy announcements, press releases, interviews and questionnaire responses for those running for office. And we encourage our members to actively support whatever candidate they choose during elections.”

 

 

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Developer Moves Fast on Arvada Square


by John Kiljan

Dear CLRC members and friends,

An informal community meeting held on July 30th was one of the most interesting that I’ve attended. It was called by a group of developers looking for public feedback on their concept plans to repurpose both the old Safeway building and Big O tire shop in the Arvada Square part of the Triangle (aka, Ralston Creek North). But at the same time it was one of the least informative meetings I’ve been to. Very little new information was available, and at first I couldn’t help but wonder why the developer called the meeting at all.

Architect Tim Van Meter describing the development area

Architect Tim Van Meter describing the development area

But it’s what wasn’t said at the meeting that I found to be the most interesting. And for the most part, things are looking pretty positive for the neighborhoods living next to the Triangle shopping centers. I’m hoping we will soon see a lot of new retail going in on that corner.

This article is mostly commentary, and I’ll try to keep my own opinions to a minimum. Anyone with their own thoughts can chime in using the ’Leave a comment’ line below.

24 Hour Fitness concept

24 Hour Fitness in the old Safeway building

First, here’s what IS new: the three developers, Loftus, Van Meter, and Mapleton, had conceptual renderings for two of the buildings to be rebuilt on the seven-acre site. One of those is the old Safeway building. The conceptual drawing has the 24 Hour Fitness logo on it. The building is being reduced in size to meet the tenant’s needs by cutting off the front and back portions of the building and making that new space available for parking. The fitness center looks pretty nice and it won’t be recognizable as an old grocery store. But the contemporary design will still leave a long blank wall facing the creek to the east.

I thought it would have been cheaper to pull the old building down altogether and rebuild from scratch, but apparently it’s not. When they first made their proposal, 24 Hour Fitness was said to be willing to spend $6 million refurbishing the building. That’s a lot, but then there is also a pool to put in and a roof to be rebuilt.

New retail concept for the Big O site

New retail concept for the Big O site

The other building is the old Big O tire shop, right on the corner of Independence and Ralston Road. In the concept drawings shown here, no tenant is identified, nor is its proposed use. But the developer did say that they were hoping to attract restaurants to this area, and to build some of them with rooftop terraces with views looking out to the mountains. Considering how different the existing Big O looks compared to the concept design, it seems likely that the old building will just be pulled down.

Also shown were some marked-up aerial views that indicated the location of where other buildings were going and a concept for a well-landscaped ‘main street’ running east-west through the middle of it all. Most of the retail buildings will be built close to the road with the parking behind in other landscaped areas. No new housing is being proposed for this area. The area that includes the Chuck E Cheese strip mall is not part of this development, and no information was provided about it.

Arvada Square - proposed buildings are in white

Arvada Square – proposed buildings are in white – click to enlarge

That’s pretty much it for designs and building locations. But there was a little more information. The results of the soil tests the developer paid for are back and there is soil contamination that will have to be mitigated. But this contamination from old businesses is thought to be a manageable expense.

And then there was something surprising: The developers will be submitting their preliminary desgns to the City in two weeks, hence this meeting now. Developers are generally required to hold their own community meetings before submitting plans to the City for approval. The developer expects to break ground on the project in the first quarter of 2016. That’s right, March. We could have new retail opening up on this site by the time the new Walmart across the street opens up late next year.

That’s nearly a year sooner than I would have thought possible. Why? To answer that question, one needs to consider what DIDN’T happen at this community meeting. Most importantly, there was no announcement that Loftus had reached an agreement with AURA for the rights to build on this property, or on what subsidies he will need to clear the land and build there.

If even there were a preliminary agreement, the AURA Board of Commissioners would still have to approve the agreement in principal. And then a contract has to be drafted for them to approve at a following meeting. AURA is not offering a TIF (tax-increment financing) for this project, so if some other form of tax-rebate financing is needed, the City Council will have to approve that beforehand. And that may require an ordinance with a first and second reading.

Normally, only after all of that has taken place will a developer go out and get financing and use that funding to do things such as putting together preliminary plans for the City to approve.

None of that has happened.   Nor is it scheduled to happen soon. Arvada Square is not on the boards’ agenda in August, although this issue could be discussed in executive session. But even then, it looks like it will be September, at the earliest, before the developer will know whether he will actually be able to build on this site.

What also wasn’t announced is that there was an agreement in place with 24 Hour Fitness to move onto the site. Apparently, that is yet to come. Ominously, Jim Loftus said that he has no ‘Plan B’ for the building if he can’t reach an agreement with the fitness center people, but he would continue with the developments closer to Ralston Road.

In the meantime, without financing, he has obviously spent a lot of time and money on soil borings for contamination evaluation and determining foundation needs. He’s also gone to the expense of putting together preliminary design plans for both 24-Hour Fitness and for Big O. This developer is ready to go, and it looks like he’s also not afraid of taking risks.

Except perhaps for one. Timing. If they wait, the developers may not be able to get the financing they need and nothing will be built. Right now the economy is booming. Employment is up. People have more money to spend. Interest rates are low and the banks are willing to lend.  That’s now. In 2017 it could be a very different story. Some, including Councilor Bob Dyer, are fearful of a recession caused by rising interest rates as soon as 2017.

Site of the former Big O tire shop at Independence and Ralston Road

Site of the former Big O tire shop at Independence and Ralston Road

It was Rich Schierburg, one of the developers of Arvada Ridge, including the Target and the Arvada Station apartments, who once quipped to the AURA board, “The three most important things in real estate development are, timing, timing and timing.” He said if the timing hadn’t been right, he could never have pulled together his Arvada Ridge projects.

And there may be one more issue pushing the developer forward: Banks don’t like uncertainty when deciding to make loans. And there is plenty of uncertainty coming up on January 1, 2016 when a new urban-renewal law comes into effect. I don’t really understand all the new law’s provisions, or even whether it affects existing urban renewal areas. I expect the City’s and AURA’s attorneys are still trying to figure that out as well. But from what I can tell, ANY special district will be able to put a hold on an urban renewal authority signing a development contract if they don’t like its provisions.   That hold could be in the form of a 120-day arbitration session followed by litigation. Even a sewage district could do that, and it could be a deal killer.

Here are just a few more notes on the meeting. I didn’t count, but it looked like about 50 people attended. It was supposed to be an open house, but turned out to be as much a question-and-answer session.

Meeting room at the Mile High Vineyard

Meeting room at the Mile High Vineyard

District 3 City Councilor John Marriot sat in the audience, as did Community Development Director Rita McConnell, AURA’s Maureen Phair and Clark Walker. I don’t recall seeing any members of the AURA Board of Commissioners. Councilor Marriott spoke briefly on improvements all along Ralston Road in response to a question.

A couple of City Council candidates also sat in on the meeting. Some attendees wanted to know the details of ongoing contract negotiations with the developer, but the developer declined to discuss those. There’s not really much point in asking about contract negotiations. As provided by law, contract negotiations are confidential and discussed in executive session. That’s true for both AURA and the City. The information from those sessions is not to be disclosed, even by the developer.

And because the negotiations are ongoing, there was no discussion of the development incentives being offered for this site. But some things we already know. A TIF seems unlikely, because there is probably none to offer. The last I heard was that this area is still below its ‘frozen baseline’ property tax level, due to its further decline since this urban renewal district was created in 2003. There is also no PIF (public improvement fee) to offer. Part of this property is already under the PIF fee set up to get Walmart to come into Arvada Plaza across the street. (There’s no TIF there either.) The City is unlikely to agree to add another PIF on top of that.

So it seems that what is left to be offered is pretty much low-cost (or even free) land to build on with a somewhat usable building. That will probably be given in exchange for cleaning up the property (including hazmat), regrading the land, the usual assortment of utility upgrades, intersection improvements, and a slug of public improvements such as new curb and gutter, sidewalks, streetscaping, landscaping, high-tech lighting, and bike/ped connections to the Ralston Creek trail.

So, is this development proposal good for Arvada? Is it good for the Triangle? Is it good for those of who live in the neighborhoods nearby?

In my opinion, the answer to all three questions is ‘yes’. And I hope we do see a March groundbreaking.

And another attendee, who is a local business owner, wrapped up his thoughts with this comment and some audience laughter, “I appreciate what you and the City are doing for the neighborhood. I know it’s a very, very difficult thing dealing with us, but I like where you are going.”

WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
The Arvada Urban Renewal Authority has a monthly business meeting this Wednesday, August 5th at 5:30 pm. As mentioned earlier, Arvada Square is not scheduled to be on the open part of the agenda. But a workshop about the new urban renewal law is. For those living near run-down areas of Arvada and who would welcome seeing an urban renewal area set up near them (such as near Arvada High School), this may be of interest.

The meeting will, however, have a brief ‘Development Update’ that should mention the Triangle.

And just to repeat, the CLRC has run several articles about the developments in the Arvada Square part of the Triangle. Here’s a link to a more recent one:

http://ralstoncommunity.org/2015/03/06/triangle-developments-new-developer-fewer-rentals-more-townhomes-more-flood-problems/

The Arvada Urban Renewal Authority (AURA) also has a short write-up on the May 27th meeting at this link:

http://arvadaurbanrenewal.org/aura-news

The Denver Post has an article covering the Arvada Square development at

http://www.denverpost.com/arvada/ci_28234920/90-million-plan-stalled-arvada-seeks-developer-blighted?source=infinite

And, as always, the Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community is an independent neighborhood association representing the neighborhoods adjacent to Ralston Road from the Wadsworth Bypass to the Kipling Parkway.

You can read all of our articles on our main website at http://www.RalstonCommunity.org or you can read even more posts on our Facebook page at “CLRC – Citizens for a Liveable Ralston Community”. You can write to us, call us or email us at

CLRC
c/o John Kiljan, Secretary
6185 Field Street
Arvada, CO 80004

303-423-9875
jpkiljan@yahoo.com

August 1, 2015

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