Foothills mall amended finance agreement approved

FORT COLLINS – An amended redevelopment and reimbursement agreement for the Foothills mall project was approved 4-2 by Fort Collins city council Tuesday evening.

Voting no on the agreement were council members Ross Cunniff and Bob Overbeck. Mayor Karen Weitkunat recused herself from discussions surrounding the mall, citing the close proximity of her residence to the redevelopment location.

Calling the redevelopment a “big gamble,” Overbeck expressed concern over the Youth Activity Center being relocated next to the retail portion of the development, as well as the future of retail. Overbeck mentioned an announcement by Macy’s last week that it would lay off 2,500 workers nationwide, although none of those cuts are expected to occur in Fort Collins.

The agreement that was presented to council on Tuesday was largely similar to the one approved by council last May in terms of the $53 million in public financing that will be part of the $313 million development, to be executed by Denver-based Alberta Development Partners.

But at the hearing in May 2013, amendments were added to the agreement that ultimately complicated the process and delayed the redevelopment. The project was supposed to break ground in summer 2013, but ongoing negotiations kept that from happening. As a result, the opening of the mall has been delayed by a full year to fourth-quarter 2015.

Council member Lisa Poppaw asked Alberta Founding Principal Don Provost about the delays at Tuesday’s meeting, insinuating that Provost and Alberta had acted in bad faith back in May, which Provost denied immediately.

According to Provost, he and his company had been fully prepared to act on the agreement that was approved in May, but plan changes kept that from happening. Again at Tuesday’s meeting, Provost assured council that his company is ready to act on the redevelopment agreement, assuming the city executes the deal.

The amendments that complicated the process throughout 2013 have been resolved, according to city documents. No further amendments or modifications were made to the agreement at Tuesday’s meeting.

A metro district will be created to issue bonds that will finance the $53 million. An expected $71 million in nonrated bonds will be issued by the district at an estimated 7 percent interest rate. City staff have said that the metro district will issue the bonds to minimize risk to the city’s balance sheet, even though nonrated bonds come at a significantly higher interest rate than municipal bonds.

These bonds are expected to be issued in March or April of this year, according to Fort Collins CFO Mike Beckstead.

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Molly Armbrister covers real estate, banking and health care for the Northern Colorado Business Report. She can be reached at 970-232-3139, marmbrister@ncbr.com or twitter.com/MArmbristerNCBR
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