Fort Collins to form metro district to finance mall re-development

FORT COLLINS – A new metro district will be formed to help manage the public financing of Foothills mall re-development, under a plan unveiled at city council work session Tuesday night.

The metro district will go to bond markets for $73 million to help fund the mall’s redevelopment. If the plan is approved by the city and accepted by the mall’s developers, the bonds would be issued this year.

City staff on Tuesday proposed a $53 million financing package, including the use of public improvement fees, tax increment financing and property taxes.

The Fort Collins City Council will vote on the package May 7. If approved, the mall’s redevelopment would break ground this summer.

The metro district will be governed by a group of three property owners from the area involved, according to Carolynne White, an attorney with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and a consultant on the mall project.

These property owners, like other public officials, will be elected, and will be up for re-election after the first eight years of the district’s existence.

Bonds issued by the metro district would have a 25-year lifespan and could be refinanced after 10 years.

The bond issue has to be higher than the amount of the public financing to allow for interest, a reserve fund and issuance costs, White said.

The mall brought in $3.1 million in 2012, but in 2016, projections show that the annual sales tax revenue would grow to $8.4 million, and city staff expect revenue figures to grow by 2 percent every year after that.

In addition to the monetary benefit, the city also stands to gain from the project because it will help mitigate blight, city staff said.

Council members expressed mostly support on Tuesday, raising a few questions that directed city staff to do a bit more research before the May 7 vote.

One of the areas that Alberta, as the project’s developer, will be looking into is the matter of sustainability, according to Alberta president Don Provost. Alberta will work to meet the city’s green building codes rather than striving for LEED certification with the U.S. Green Building Council, Provost said.

Because mall owners and developers can’t control the amount of energy used by their tenants, achieving LEED certification for shopping malls is rare, Provost said.

Instead, as the project’s developer, Alberta can focus on keeping the core and shell of the building green and energy efficient, Provost said.

Alberta also plans to construct a $3 million tunnel from the Foothills property underneath College Avenue to the MAX Bus Rapid Transit line, which is under construction along Mason Street.

Alberta will also remodel what is now called the Youth Activity Center, spending $4.8 million and renaming the facility the Foothills Activity Center. The activity center will be turned over to the city for maintenance upon completion.

In addition, Alberta is planning as many as 800 multi-family units near the mall. The residential component would likely break ground in the summer of 2015, according to the city staff’s presentation.


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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