A new campus for the Denver World Trade Center in the appropriately named Globeville neighborhood in Denver inched closer to reality Monday.
The Denver City Council declared the former Denver Post printing plant property site as blighted, clearing the way for a massive redevelopment project. The project offers attractive tax increment financing to developers.
“In 2008, the Denver Post moved their printing operation to Adams County,” according to a city staff report. “The area has remained vacant since this move. The general objectives of the Fox Park Urban Redevelopment Plan are to reduce or eliminate blighted conditions as well as to stimulate the growth and development of the area by supporting the construction of infrastructure improvements, parks and open space, and parking facilities that will support additional vertical development.”
Former Denver Post property blighted
The Fox Park Urban Redevelopment area comprises 41 acres formerly occupied by the Denver Post printing plant. Given the land once was used to spread news of the world adds to the coincidence of it being used for a World Trade Center.
According to a report by the Denver Urban Renewal Authority, the “redeveloper intends to complete horizontal infrastructure needed to support vertical development plan and sell improved pad sites to third party vertical developers.” The massive redevelopment will include affordable housing, hotel rooms, office space, a cultural or educational component, shopping, open space, and a huge underground parking garage.
Not much affordable housing
City Councilman Paul Kashmann said the developer is getting a sweetheart deal, investing about $6.5 million back into the community on a half-billion-dollar project. Only 7 percent of the site will be affordable housing, with 25 percent priced at 60 percent of average median income ($48,000 and under) and the rest at 80 percent of average media income (about $55,000 and under).
But the developer also will pay for massive, complicated infrastructure improvements that the city otherwise could not afford on its own. Those include redesigning and building the property’s major intersections. It also includes an expensive flood control project for heavy rains.
Developer listened to community groups
The developer listened closely to neighborhood groups, several people said Monday during the public hearing.
“I’m over the moon to see good, conscientious development,” one Globeville resident said. She said the current state of the property invites tumbleweeds and crime.
The new development will bring lights and traffic to what “is now a dumping ground for stolen cars, mattresses and anything else they want to dump,” the resident said, adding she welcomes the new development “with open arms.”
“They have embodied all the qualities of a good neighbor,” Gale LaRue said. “They listen to our ideas.”
She said the developer shows up to help at community events. It has a good understanding of the needs of Globeville, she stressed.
Assistance to keep Globeville residents in homes
“Globeville is one of the oldest communities in Denver and many of our communities are falling apart,” LaRue explained, adding the developer plans to create a fund for home improvements in the neighborhood.
In lieu of more affordable housing units, the development agreement helps households so they can stay in their homes. “We see urban redevelopment as a potential threat for displacement,” said Nola Miguel, a Globeville resident. She said the developer produced an agreement specific to the community’s needs.
She said many previous developers only met with neighborhood officials because the city required them.
The World Trade Center’s offices currently are at 2650 E. 40th in Denver.
CdeBaca casts lone ‘no’ vote
In a rare move, City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca voted against the development agreement despite most of the council and residents of her own district supporting it. She said the way the deal is structured as a tax increment financing project it does not have built-in protections for keeping the neighborhood at becoming cost prohibitive.
“It looks good, and it sounds good, but we don’t have the protective policies in place,” CdeBaca said.
CdeBaca represents the Globeville neighborhood.