LOUISVILLE — A plan more than a year in the making to build a major new Medtronic Inc. plant in Louisville has collapsed, but the medical-device maker is now eyeing nearby Lafayette for the project.
The Medtronic campus was the crown jewel of the planned Redtail Ridge development, which seeks to transform the long-vacant Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX) property adjacent to U.S. Highway 36 into a large-scale mixed-use development.
That project, led by Brue Baukol Capital Partners, has faced harsh scrutiny in recent months as plans have made their way through Louisville’s regulatory approval process. In August, Louisville City Council opted not to vote to approve the development plans; rather, the body chose to send the proposal back to the city’s planning commission for further review and feedback. The hope from city leaders was that Brue Baukol would scale back the scope of Redtail Ridge, something the developer expressed willingness to explore.
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Brue Baukol’s most-recent proposal put forth a comprehensive plan and general development plan amendment request that includes up to 5,886,000 gross square feet of building area and 2,236 multifamily residential units on the nearly 400-acre site that formerly housed the Storage Technology Corp. headquarters. The Medtronic component would have been a $133 million, 500,000-square-foot corporate campus.
The news was first reported by the Denver Business Journal.
Medtronic has a smaller, existing presence in Louisville and was approved by the city and state for a package of tax incentives for the new campus.
“In Louisville, Medtronic and the Medtronic development were reliant upon the Redtail Ridge Master Developer obtaining approvals from the city of Louisville. In August 2020, the Louisville City Council chose not to vote on approving plans for the Redtail Ridge development,” Medtronic external communications director John Jordan told BizWest in an email Thursday morning. “It is unclear how long these revisions will take and when the updated plan will be completed. Based on the time since we started this process combined with the uncertainty of the Redtail Ridge development, we have decided not to pursue Louisville as a potential location.”
Louisville leaders’ unwillingness to act on Brue Baukol’s development proposals has frustrated local economic development officials.
“It’s hard to tell which city council meeting or planning commission [meeting] with the city of Louisville was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. vice president Sam Bailey said. “The continued offering by both Brue Baukol and Medtronic to provide concessions to satisfy the community’s desires continued to go without recognition.”
Louisville economic vitality manager Megan Pierce provided BizWest with a statement on behalf of the city: “It is a top priority for the city to establish an open and deliberative process that encourages community engagement during consideration of proposed developments. Our residents are passionate about the future of Louisville and as such requested changes to the proposal. The course of the Redtail Ridge application has affected the anticipated approval timeline for Medtronic’s proposed campus and does not appear to work for Medtronic at this time.”
The city’s statement continued: “We continue to value the work that Medtronic does and the contributions it has made to our community. The city strongly supported Medtronic’s previous plans for its current location in Louisville and approved the largest business assistance package in city history, enabling Medtronic’s ongoing investment in Louisville. We look forward to a continued partnership with Medtronic as it remains a significant employer for the city and hope that it will keep Louisville in mind as it considers other opportunities.”
Roger Sherman, a spokesman working on behalf of Brue Baukol, said the firm found out about Medtronic’s decision on Wednesday.
“We are very disappointed but glad to see that it is their intent to stay in Boulder County,” Sherman said in an email. “Brue Baukol has been working diligently to find a path forward with P66 and the city of Louisville and have made strong progress toward a plan that embraces community goals and values. We are very committed to this site; we believe it is the best site in the Front Range of Colorado.”
While Louisville may have lost out on the Medtronic campus, Lafayette now has a chance to reel in the company.
“We have identified a nearby location in Lafayette as the potential future home of a new Medtronic Colorado campus. In Lafayette, Medtronic will control the land acquisition and development process,” Jordan said. “Over the next six months, we will continue with our due diligence in evaluating the Lafayette site.”
According to Jordan, the site Medtronic is eyeing is about three miles from Redtail Ridge, north of E-470 and just east of U.S. Highway 287.
“Throughout this process, we’ve provided a plethora of competitive sites in the metro Denver region,” Bailey said. “That’s always the strategy in case we have something fall through, whether that’s the site doesn’t work or there are political challenges like we experienced in Louisville. We always want to ensure we have a competitive backup.”