Larimer County would receive double acreage in land swap tied to Lind development

LOVELAND – Larimer County could wind up receiving twice as much land as it gives up in a swap with developers who are planning a $500 million mixed-use project south of The Ranch.

Windsor developer Martin Lind’s Water Valley Land Co. and Kansas-based Stellar Development announced on Tuesday that they’re partnering on a 90-acre development at the northwest corner of Crossroads Boulevard and Fairgrounds Avenue that would include 425,000 square feet of retail space, 426,500 square feet of office space, two hotels, a movie theater and 825 apartments, among other amenities.

About a third of the land eyed for the project is owned by Larimer County. But under a deal with the county, the developers would take ownership of that land in exchange for a large chunk that is adjacent to county-owned land on the north side of The Ranch/Larimer County Fairgrounds.

County manager Linda Hoffman said Wednesday that the county has a signed memorandum of understanding with developers that sets forth the process both parties will take to explore the land swap further.

As both sides intend now, the county would give developers 22 acres of developable, vacant land on the south side of The Ranch in exchange for 44 developable acres on the north side. Water Valley does not own the land on the north side, though Hoffman said developers have an option to purchase it.

The county also would give developers about 10 acres included in the proposed development site that currently are home to a detention pond that was built to handle runoff from The Ranch, which opened in 2003. If developers use that land, they would have to relocate the detention pond at their expense to land Water Valley owns to the east.

As it stands now, the county owns the 22-acre site on the south side of The Ranch that it considers developable, as well as some vacant land on the north side that are reserved for future uses at the facility.

“If the swap goes through, we’ll actually have more developable property to the north in one chunk than we would have had from the remnant pieces from the original holding,” Hoffman said.

Lind could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

Given that the funds used to purchase The Ranch property and build the facility as it stands today were voter-approved, Hoffman said the county will be careful in conducting the land swap to honor the intent for those funds as it relates to future uses that could be added to The Ranch. The original concept of The Ranch, she said, was for fairgrounds uses to be encompassed by Arena Circle, with complementary uses spread around the outside of that street. The first such use added was the Embassy Suites Hotel that still leases land from Larimer County today. But the land swap could alter that original vision for the layout.

Hoffman said the county is in the process of embarking on a new master planning process for The Ranch, a process that will include putting together a group of citizen stakeholders to gather their input on the vision for The Ranch and possible future uses. If after doing the master plan work, all involved stakeholders find that the future uses they envision for The Ranch fit better on one chunk of land to the north side of the site rather than the split holdings the county has now, the county would move forward with the swap.

Hoffman said the MOU requires that both parties provide additional information and perform additional due diligence as it relates to the swap. While the MOU doesn’t place a value on the parcels of land being exchanged, she said county officials and developers have at this point agreed that the 22 acres the county would give up is roughly equal to the 44 acres developers would hand over. The land swap would ultimately require approval from the county commissioners.

“I think both parties’ intentions are clear, but there is not a real estate contract,” Hoffman said.

Developers said Tuesday that they hope to break ground on their project, dubbed Brands at the Ranch, next year and deliver the first phase of the project by the fall of 2018.

Hoffman said Lind, who owns most of the acreage to the south of Larimer County’s holdings at the Ranch, first approached county officials about the potential for a land swap several months ago.

“Our little piece fits in nicely with his development, and that’s why (Lind) was willing to offer us more land to the north that would give us a new development block,” Hoffman said.

LOVELAND – Larimer County could wind up receiving twice as much land as it gives up in a swap with developers who are planning a $500 million mixed-use project south of The Ranch.

Windsor developer Martin Lind’s Water Valley Land Co. and Kansas-based Stellar Development announced on Tuesday that they’re partnering on a 90-acre development at the northwest corner of Crossroads Boulevard and Fairgrounds Avenue that would include 425,000 square feet of retail space, 426,500 square feet of office space, two hotels, a movie theater and 825 apartments, among other amenities.

About a third of the land eyed for the project is owned by Larimer County. But under a deal with the county, the developers would take ownership of that land in exchange for a large chunk that is adjacent to county-owned land on the north side of The Ranch/Larimer County Fairgrounds.

County manager Linda Hoffman said Wednesday that the county has a signed memorandum of understanding with developers that sets forth the process both parties will take to explore the land swap further.

As both sides intend now, the county would give developers 22 acres of developable, vacant land on the south side of The Ranch in exchange for 44 developable acres on the north side. Water Valley does not own the land on the north side, though Hoffman said developers have an option to purchase it.

The county also would give developers about 10 acres included in the proposed development site that currently are home to…