Government & Politics  April 20, 2022

Early results favor Redtail Ridge opposition

LOUISVILLE — The opponents of the Redtail Ridge development plan in Louisville jumped out to an early lead Tuesday night as the first ballot in a special election that will decide the fate of the long-vacant, former Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX) site off U.S. Highway 36 began being counted.

The “No” campaign, which, if successful, would vacate the Louisville City Council’s approval of a plan from Denver-based developer Brue Baukol Capital Partners LLC to build as many as 3 million square feet of office, industrial and flexible-use buildings, had 3,386 votes as of 7:06 p.m., according to data from the Louisville City Clerk’s office. The “Yes” campaign trailed with 3,062.

The city still has roughly 800 to 900 votes to count.

Should the “No” faction prevail, zoning on the Redtail Ridge site would revert to its pre-approval status, significantly curtailing scope of potential development. 

Redtail Ridge encompasses more than 400 acres along U.S. Highway 36 and Northwest Parkway. The site once housed Storage Technology Corp., which sold to Sun Microsystems Inc. in 2005 for $4.1 billion. Sun was acquired by Oracle Corp. (NYSE: ORCL) in 2010, and employees were shifted to Broomfield.

ConocoPhillips had acquired the site for a proposed clean-energy research park that was expected to generate 7,000 jobs, but the subsequent spinoff of Phillips 66 halted those plans, and the property was put up for sale.

Brue Baukol, which paid $34.93 million for the site, initially sought to turn the parcel into a 5.22 million-square-foot live-work development anchored by a new corporate campus for medical-device maker Medtronic Inc. and a roughly 1,500-home senior-living community operated by Erickson Living LLC. Additional planned components included offices, retail space and apartments. 

Medtronic skipped town for a nearby site in Lafayette, and locals spoke out against the housing portion of the project, arguing that thousands of new residents would strain city resources and exacerbate traffic congestion.

Brue Baukol went back to the drawing board and brought back a scaled-back plan, which was eventually approved last year by the Louisville City Council, which applied a dozen conditions to its approval to further limit the scope of the project. 

After Redtail Ridge’s plans were approved, Centura Health’s Avista Adventist Hospital confirmed that it is under contract to purchase land in the Redtail Ridge development for a new hospital on the site.

Hospital officials have said they are committed to Louisville and could seek the requisite zoning approvals from the city to allow for the construction of a hospital independent of the other proposed Redtail Ridge elements.

Almost immediately upon the city’s approval of Redtail Ridge, opponents of the project cried foul and set about gathering 780 signatures, nearly double the amount required by the city, for a petition to force the Louisville City Council to reconsider.

Rather than reversing its decision to approve the Redtail Ridge plans, the council opted early this year to send the matter to the voters.

The run-up to the special election has been contentious, with lobbying groups formed both in favor and in opposition to the plan. Both groups have accused the other of underhanded tactics in the lead up to the election.

Yes for Louisville, the pro-development faction, raised a total of $55,617.23 in monetary and in-kind contributions ahead of the March 30 financial disclosure deadline and another $37,261.99 between the end of March and April 15.

Of the total funds raised, more than $80,000 of in-kind donations came from Brue Baukol, including about $50,000 in marketing services from consultancy The Strategy Division.

Opposition group Citizens for a Vibrant Sustainable Louisville raised $1,425.85 in during the first reporting period and $854 during the second.

Representatives for both groups, as well as Brue Baukol, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday evening.

This story will be updated as more votes are counted.

Lucas High
A Maryland native, Lucas has worked at news agencies from Wyoming to South Carolina before putting roots down in Colorado.
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