Faced with two large vacancies in Gold Hill Square South, Bill Page awaits a decision by the Downtown Development Authority on his request for a change in the tax-increment financing policy.
At issue is Page’s concern that tenants will abandon Gold Hill and move over to Woodland Station and thus, be eligible for infrastructure improvements funded by the DDA’s financing tool.
“I’ve got these huge vacancies and I need time to get it corrected,” Page said. “And for the city to be funding a project, without a level field, for the cost of parking, paving, for instance, I don’t think it’s fair.”
Page has requested a three-year hiatus on the TIF policy but only for businesses that might move from his shopping center to the new development. Tax-increment financing is based on the rise in property taxes due to improvements, with the increase amount going directly to the DDA to fund the cost of infrastructure, for instance.
Page says his request springs from two sources, a banker in Colorado Springs and the decision by the town council in Castle Rock regarding a new shopping center, the Promenade. The banker turned him down for carrying the loan on the center until Woodland Station is complete, Page said.
In the Castle Rock development the council approved a four-point agreement that included restrictions on the re-location of existing businesses to the new development.
Page has a basis for his concern, as Woodland Park Hardware did move from Gold Hill Square to Woodland Station and did receive TIF funding for infrastructure.
“I don’t have any ill feelings about Woodland Hardware; Gene and Kelly (Rodarmel) rented from me for 27 years and were excellent tenants,” he said.
The Rodarmels grew the business from 6,000 to 12,000 square feet and could not expand any more, Page said. “They got a swell deal from the city and I congratulate them.”
But what gets Page is the next phase of the development, Woodland Village, property owned by Arden Weatherford, Steve Randolph and Kip Unruh and marketed by Mark Weaver and Michael Harper.
“If the city is going to provide 47 percent of the parking down there, that’s not a level playing field,” Page said. “In Gold Hill South, we built all the city streets, water, sewer, drainage, all that in 1979,” he said.
As well, 47 percent of required parking for Woodland Hardware is on city streets, he added. “So as an example of what it costs to build a parking lot is about a $700,000 savings for Woodland Hardware,” Page said.
Jon DeVaux, who was on the DDA board for the first 12 years, has an opinion about Page’s request. He’s against it.
“If in three years, Bill has made no improvements or change in Gold Hill Square South, then what are we getting out of it?” he said.
Just as Page received DDA money for the improvements on the theatre in Gold Hill Square North, he is entitled to TIF money for any improvements or change in the south part of the shopping center, DeVaux said. “He’s entitled to whatever anybody else gets,” DeVaux said.
To back up his objection, DeVaux cites a hypothetical situation put forth by Tanner Coy of Tweeds at the DDA meeting in June.
“If a Papa John’s Pizza (a national chain) wanted to build within the DDA we would help them out — but if A.J.s Pizza (currently in Gold Hill South) wanted to move into Woodland Station, we wouldn’t be able to because of the agreement?” DeVaux said. “We’d helped somebody from out of town but we wouldn’t help a local person?”
DeVaux is not convinced that Page has a viable argument. “He’s had 30 years to gather income to redo his project,” DeVaux said. “If he wants to make the center sustainable, that’s part of it.”
The board, with recommendations from the subcommittee, is expected to make the decision at the next meeting at 7:30 a.m. July 1 in the Woodland Park Council chambers.
“The subcommittee is being analytical about the whole process and what they come up with, everybody’s got to live with,” Page said. “I don’t know if the decision will be to my advantage or disadvantage but I just presented my case.”