Demolition of 2 Loveland buildings to start this summer

The City of Loveland will move forward with plans to tear down two buildings downtown this summer. The effort will include removing contaminants from the soil under the buildings, with the goal of preparing the area for redevelopment.

The structures at 301 and 319 N. Lincoln are both city-owned. The building at 301 N. Lincoln is commonly known as the “Leslie the Cleaner” building, and is the source of the contaminants in the soil beneath both buildings.

Perchloroethlyene, or PCE, is a dry-cleaning solvent that was commonly used at Leslie the Cleaner, a long-standing dry-cleaning business in downtown Loveland.

When PCE hits the air, it turns into a gas that can contaminate indoor air, according to Loveland City Planner Mike Scholl.

To address the problem, the city must hire an environmental contaminant removal company to treat the soil and remove traces of the chemicals. Asbestos abatement and lead paint removal will also be needed to ensure the safety of the site for future use.

A company has not yet been selected by the city, Scholl said, but the process from start to finish should take about eight weeks.

A $313,000 Environmental Protection Agency grant will help pay for the cleanup. The Loveland City Council last year appropriated $242,800 for the purchase and demolition of the property.

Once the buildings are torn down, the city can begin to actively market the properties for redevelopment, Scholl said. The available space could be used for commercial or residential use, or a mix of the two.

The buildings were purchased by the city so that it could raze them and clear the path to redevelopment.

The city would be willing to partner with a private developer if the right deal comes along, Scholl said. Incentives for redevelopment are available, he noted.

Loveland is in the midst of a big redevelopment push. All development downtown receives a fee waiver from the city, according to Scholl, and many downtown properties are helped along by the city in some fashion.

For example, projects such as the Lincoln Place Apartments are being constructed within one of the downtown Urban Renewal Areas.

More prominently, the $4.2 million Rialto Bridge project was a joint venture between the city of Loveland, the Rialto Bridge company, and the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado. The project added a three-story building that provides space for Rialto Theater storage, workshop and dressing rooms and a community room, reception space and conference room.

The private portion of the project houses Next Door Food & Drink, a tapas restaurant and wine bar, which opened in March. The third floor of the addition houses private offices.

The Loveland Library project included the addition of 24,700 square feet and came with a price tag of $8.1 million. The project, which is expected to earn LEED certification, was financed through a combination of funding sources, including $2 million raised by the nonprofit Friends of the Library.

Fort Collins ranked high for home-price appreciation

The Fort Collins-Loveland metropolitan area ranks sixth in the nation for home-price appreciation, according to the House Price Index recorded by the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Home prices have increased 1.49 percent year-over-year from Dec. 31, 2010 in the Fort Collins-Loveland survey area.

Factors that play into the price appreciation vary widely, from job growth to historically low vacancy rates. Also giving the area a boost is the fact that the market never bottomed out quite like other parts of the country.

Zillow.com, while not necessarily known for its up-to-the-minute data, agrees with the home price trends noted by the FHFA. The Zillow Home Price Index for the nation decreased by 4.5 percent from February 2011 to February of this year, to $145,400. In Colorado, the index fell over the same period by 1.3 percent to $199,300.

Molly Armbrister covers real estate for the Northern Colorado Business Report. She can be reached at marmbrister@ncbr.com or 970-232-3139.

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