City council had been working on this project for years. Bob Frie, former mayor and others have a stake in an LLC that has helped put this together and all of them will profit greatly from it's development.
Construction is slated to begin within the next month on an $18 million residential development next to McIlvoy Park after council agreed to allow Park Place Olde Town, Inc. to build connecting sidewalks into the park.
The Arvada Report believes this development will be primarily low income housing. With the overall project goal to re-vitalize Old Town into more of a Bel-mar environment for young people. Many members of council have state the goal is to create environments where people don't have cars and simply walk/ride public transit where they need to go. Of course this mentality stands to benefit Shelly Cook greatly as she owns the city's public A-line.
The process was not without contention. Citizens group Save Arvada Now believes council's 7-0 vote April 21 for a "revocable permit for encroachment" — which grants conditional use of public rights-of-way to private entities — for the developer will make a portion of the park unusable to the public by replacing grass with sidewalks for the use of private renters.
It is also in violation of the deed that gave the park to Arvada citizens in 1919, Save Arvada Now founder Nancy Young (A leader among the Arvada Historical Society) said during a 15-minute presentation to council.
"It's a bad precedent for parks," Young said. "It creates questions as to whether all Arvada parks could be subjected to the same fate, especially since Arvada has embarked on an ambitious building program."
Plans for Park Place Olde Town call for 153 rental units to be built in a five-story complex on the east end of Olde Town next to McIlvoy Park and blocks away from a future light rail station.
As a tax increment financing project, Park Place Olde Town will receive two pieces of property valued at $425,000 for $10 from the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority. So the City of Arvada in the form of AURA is giving away almost half a million dollars in real estate to a private developer? How is that even legal? Or perhaps the better question is who is the developer? Could it be a secret LLC?
The developer paid $1.27 million for the historic Masonic Lodge and will also receive a property tax rebate of $1.25 million from the urban renewal authority. All three properties will be torn down to make way for the rental units. It is of note that the masonic building on the corner was owned by the same individual who owns Marc Williams (Mayor) legal building. Maybe he got in on the deal too.
"The developer initially proposed a three-story complex, and we challenged that and said 'no, we need high density,' " said authority director Maureen Phair, noting the larger request prompted the TIF agreement. "We really hope these transit nodes become high-density, walkable areas where families no longer need two cars. It's long-term planning."
City officials say the permit that allows the sidewalks is the same thing given to restaurants to allow temporary patio space on public sidewalks. It can be revoked at any time if the developer is negligent in maintaining the sidewalks.
"Our charter does not allow park land to be given away unless it goes to a vote of the citizens," said Gordon Reusink, director of Arvada's Parks, Golf and Hospitality department. "This is the city giving permission to the developer to install 13 small sidewalk connections into the park."
He added that the sidewalks will extend four to 15 feet from the border of the apartment property into the park and are in line with the city's long-term plan to connect residents to local parks.
That doesn't work for Young, who said a permanent sidewalk is a lot different than a permit given for temporary patio space.
The project has drawn the ire of some neighbors who believe the project will degrade the historic nature of Olde Town. They say the city has made too many accommodations to the developer. Which isn't surprising if we look and find out the developer is owned by former and current council members
City staff has given the project 36 design guideline waivers that will, among other things, allow surface parking close to sidewalks and the street, and allow the project to avoid using fabric awnings.
"Each project is unique, and it's really difficult to say what an average amount of waivers is," said deputy city manager Bill Ray. "It's like asking the average number of exemptions on an income tax return. It's different for everybody."
City officials say they're trying to strike a balance between maintaining the historic nature of Olde Town while preparing for the influx of new residents who will come with the 2016 arrival of the Gold Line.
Ray added: "We don't think you have to do either one at the expense of the other."
Read more: Arvada OKs final permit for $18 million Park Place Olde Town apartments - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/arvada/ci_25614072/arvada-oks-18-million-park-place-olde-town#ixzz2zloiRmWR