Cash to aid ArtSpace project wins final Loveland OK
LOVELAND — Nonprofit developer Artspace Properties on Tuesday won final approval of a $230,000 city appropriation to keep the redevelopment of Loveland’s historic Feed and Grain building on track, after several reluctant city councilors changed their votes.
Acting as the Loveland Urban Renewal Authority, the council voted 9-0 to approve the appropriation, which had passed 5-4 on first reading after an acrimonious discussion during the council’s meeting July 19.
The contribution from LURA reimburses the developer for eligible costs as defined in the owner participation agreement. Funding from a Community Revitalization Grant that ArtSpace is using to build the project requires matching funds from the developer, and the LURA contribution qualifies as part of that match.
ArtSpace is preserving and transforming the historic Feed and Grain building into a mixed-use property that will feature nine units of live/work housing for households making less than 140% of Area Median Income. It will include 5,000 square feet of commercial space for the creative sector, as well as a lobby for public gatherings, art shows and broader community use. This project will complete the Loveland Arts Campus that was envisioned more than 10 years ago.
At the July 19 meeting, councilors had sharply criticized projected rents of $1,800 to $2,000 a month for the project’s one- and two-bedroom units as being far from affordable.
Concerns also had been raised about the lack of a “date certain” for the project’s completion and whether LURA or the Downtown Development Authority would have primary responsibility for handling the revenue it would generate. At that meeting, DDA board chair Ray Steele had said that organization was supportive of the project but also had concerns about control of its revenue between the DDA and LURA.
On Tuesday, Councilor Steve Olson won approval of his request that a presentation be prepared that “clearly delineates the authority” of the DDA “regarding the utilization of funds generated within the authority, who has the ownership of the funds and precisely what entity has the approval authority to expend funds.” He asked that part of that presentation compare Loveland’s operations with that of DDAs in Fort Collins, Longmont and Greeley, “with specific emphasis on the degree of autonomy the DDA has from its governing body.”
Approval of Olson’s request won his supporting vote for the appropriation and led
Councilor John Fogle to announce he was switching his vote as well. However, Olson recounted a tour he had taken at the construction site and observed, “Boy, do they have a lot of work cut out for them.”
Olson admonished representatives of the Minnesota-based nonprofit that had requested the appropriation, “Don’t come back for more money. I’ll fight you if you do.”
Councilor Patrick McFall said it “gives me pause” that no firm date for the project’s completion had been set, and Councilor Dana Foley sought to amend the agreement to give the city council more oversight over the deadline. That amendment failed after business development project manager Scott Schorling said such a measure would be “a deal-killer” for investors. “They would view tightening that as a risk to their investments,” he said. “They view a public and political process as much less predictable.”