Government & Politics  December 6, 2023

Louisville officials’ illnesses force 2-month Redtail Ridge postponement

LOUISVILLE — A Louisville City Council hearing Tuesday on a new proposal for the Redtail Ridge development project was postponed until February because several elected officials were sick and could not attend the meeting. 

Council members will now consider approval of a preliminary plat for Chicago-based developer Sterling Bay LLC’s plan to add more than 2 million square feet of commercial space to a long-vacant site adjacent to U.S. Highway 36 on Feb. 6, 2024. The roughly 400-acre Redtail Ridge site could also become the new home to AdventHealth Avista Hospital.

“We have two members out with COVID,” Louisville Mayor Chris Leh said. “… So staff has recommended we continue this item.”

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Louisville City Councilman Dietrich Hoefner recused himself from the continuance vote and said he plans to recuse himself from future Redtail Ridge votes due to a potential conflict of interest.

City staff had initially recommended bringing the plat back for consideration on Jan. 16, 2024, however the Louisville City Council — with only six members seated on the body when at full attendance — opted to wait a few more weeks to allow for a Ward 1 council member to be appointed and sworn in. 

“This is one of the items that has such a huge impact on our community that it’s worth a month to make sure that everyone is represented to the fullest extent possible,” City Councilwoman Barbara Hamlington said.

Denver developer Brue Baukol Capital Partners LLC bought the former Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX) site in 2020 for $34.93 million. As part of a July 2022 real estate transaction conducted by a series of holding companies, Sterling Bay acquired the property from Brue Baukol for just under $128 million, Boulder County warranty deeds show. Brue Baukol remains a minority partner in the development. 

When Sterling Bay entered the picture, the developer added plans for flex-lab-office spaces aimed at biotechnology tenants, a red-hot subsector of the Boulder Valley commercial real estate scene in recent years. 

The Redtail Ridge development team has spent the past four years attempting to shepherd its project — which has undergone significant changes several times based on feedback from Louisville officials and residents — through the city’s development-approval process. 

Most recently, the Louisville Planning Commission, on a 3-2 vote, recommended denial of Redtail’s final plat in December 2022. That recommendation came after an April 2022 special election in which Louisville voters repealed a previous approval of the project by city officials.

Concerns from residents and city officials — mostly centering around flattening of the site, traffic, the size and location of public spaces, sustainability and economic viability — have nagged Redtail Ridge for years.  

The latest iteration of Redtail Ridge, which is expected to be built in phases over the next decade-plus, calls for a total of about 2.6 million square feet of commercial space, according to planning documents submitted to the city. 

The first phase, set to be underway by 2025, would include 509,260 square feet of industrial space, 300,000 square feet of life-sciences space and 598,940 square feet of manufacturing practice-rated (GMP) space, according to the documents. 

Phase 2, to be built by 2030, calls for another 118,800 square feet of industrial space; 90,000 square feet of office space; 264,000 square feet of research and development space; 14,000 square feet of retail; a 285,000 square-foot, 160-bed hospital (Avista); and 150,000 square feet of medical and dental office space, according to a land-use chart included in a planning memo.

The third phase, expected to wrap up around 2035, includes another 270,000 square feet of general office space. 

Avista has been under contract to buy about 40 acres on the Redtail site at the interchange of U.S. Highway 36 and Northwest Parkway, where it plans to relocate from its existing building at 100 Health Park Drive. That deal is understood to be contingent upon the Redtail proposal finally crossing the regulatory finish line. 

Hospital leaders have long said that Avista suffers from accessibility issues. The hospital’s vulnerabilities were highlighted during the Marshall Fire in late 2021. 

The site is accessed only by Health Park Drive, which dead-ends at the hospital. Over the years, the hospital has been unsuccessful in securing a new interchange off of U.S. Highway 36. Poor access adds to the time required to reach the facility, making it difficult to attract new patients.

Additionally, Avista’s landlocked location does not offer opportunities to expand, hospital officials have said, with the community missing out on potential new services because the hospital has no room to grow. A new hospital at Redtail Ridge would provide Avista with a far larger market service area, putting it closer to a wider population base.

LOUISVILLE — A Louisville City Council hearing Tuesday on a new proposal for the Redtail Ridge development project was postponed until February because several elected officials were sick and could not attend the meeting. 

Council members will now consider approval of a preliminary plat for Chicago-based developer Sterling Bay LLC’s plan to add more than 2 million square feet of commercial space to a long-vacant site adjacent to U.S. Highway 36 on Feb. 6, 2024. The roughly 400-acre Redtail Ridge site could also become the new home to AdventHealth Avista Hospital.

“We have two…

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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