Fort Collins planning and zoning OKs Woodward plan

FORT COLLINS — The Fort Collins Planning and Zoning Board Thursday night unanimously approved the project development plan for Woodward Inc. to build a new headquarters on what is now the Link-N-Greens golf course.

The plan can now move forward through the city’s review process. Planning and zoning approval means that the plan meets all land-use codes for the city.

During the public testimony portion of the evening, eight community members addressed the board, and all spoke in favor of the project.

Two modifications sought by Woodward to the city code also were granted. Modifications can be made if they are not “detrimental to the public good.”

The first modification allows the development of parking lots between the buildings that Woodward will construct on what is now the Link-N-Greens property at Mulberry Street and Lemay Avenue and the nearby Poudre River.

The other modification allows two buildings near the river to be two stories tall instead of stepping down to one story, as is required in city code.

City staff also suggested seven conditions for the approval of the plan, some more technical than others.

Woodward objected to one of these conditions, and it was ultimately removed before the board voted on the plan.

The condition in question recommended that a 15-feet-wide public access easement should be provided along the western boundary of the 101-acre property to accommodate future trail connection from Lincoln Avenue to the Poudre River Trail.

Including this easement, which would have increased bicycle connectivity, would have been a security issue for Woodward, representatives of the company said.

Perhaps the most important condition specifies that the project obtain approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a revised floodplain map.

Part of the proposed project sits within a 100-year floodplain and another portion sits within a 500-year floodplain. Woodward has been working with the city to develop a plan to re-grade the site near the river.

The potential redevelopment of the Link-N-Greens golf course into Woodward’s new headquarters could eventually mean the construction of 944,000 square feet of manufacturing, office and retail space built over a span of several decades, according to plans submitted by the company.

The bulk of the space on the site would be occupied by the energy and aerospace company. Its plans, submitted last month, show more than 871,000 square feet of five potential buildings to be used by the company.

Woodward has not officially confirmed that it intends to move forward with the site, but if it does, the company’s total investment could be as much as $219 million, according to an economic impact analysis performed by the city and TIP Strategies and Impact DataSource.

The company — which moved its HQ from Rockford, Ill., to Fort Collins in 2007 after Fort Collins resident Tom Gendron was named CEO — announced last year that it was considered several possible locations around the country.

If approved, the project will proceed in phases, with the first phase including about 268,000 square feet. This phase would include a 150,000-square-foot Industrial Turbomachinery Systems building with both manufacturing and office space. This initial phase will also include 24,000 square feet of production support.

The first phase of the project will house about 500 employees. At full build-out, the headquarters will hold between 1,700 and 1,900 employees. Right now, Woodward employs 1,200 at its Fort Collins and Loveland campuses.

The entire project would be constructed over a five- to 30-year period. “Future expansion of the Woodward campus buildings will occur over time as production needs dictate,” the company explained in its plan.

The site plan shows potential uses such as restaurants or a bank to supplement office and other mixed-use space.

About 30 percent of the 101 acres will remain open space, according to the plan.

Plans also show that the project, if it moves forward, will leave standing historic properties on the site.

The plans do not include additional housing on the site, but the creation of new commercial services and employment opportunities should spur the development of new housing nearby, the plan says.

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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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