Commission unanimously approves City for Champions

 

CSEC-2

In a stunning and unanticipated victory for Mayor Steve Bach and his economic vitality team, the Colorado Economic Development Commission fully funded the city’s request for the City for Champions project.

Bach’s team had requested tax increment funding in the approximate amount of $123 million, while a third-party analyst and the EDC staff had recommended allocating only $53 million. In a unanimous vote, the Commission overrode their recommendation and awarded C4C the full amount.

“It’s almost hard to find the words,” said Mayor Bach on Monday morning, moments after the vote. “I hope we’ll look back on this as a defining moment in our city’s history.  I think this ranks up there with Penrose, Stratton, and the Air Force Academy.”

While no public comments were taken at the meeting, a full contingent of C4C supporters sat in the audience, including City Councilors Jill Gaebler and Val Snider, as well as city economic development guru Bob Cope, County Commissioner Amy Lathen, City Attorney Chris Melcher, and downtown businessman Chris Jenkins.

Bach said that he’s looking forward to the next step.

“Let’s put aside all these petty politics,” he said, “and move forward to a real community discussion. This will turn heads, not just here but nationally. The next step is to show the community a structure that works, that won’t burden the taxpayers. I think we can show that these will be self-sustaining projects.”

An elated Jill Gaebler voiced similar sentiments.

“This is such an exciting time for our city,” she said. “The EDC showed such faith in our city. Now the community conversation begins and we can put together the best possible projects for our community.”

In common with other supporters, Bach was surprised by the Commission’s whole-hearted support.

“Like anyone else, I didn’t have any advance information,” he said. “I had obviously braced myself for something much less than we had asked for. I think we made the case.”

EDC members may have been swayed by the outpouring of support for the proposal from the Colorado Springs business community. Hundreds of letters of support from business and political leaders were received by the EDC, and dozens of community leaders braved the ice and snow to testify at least week’s EDC meeting in Denver.

Those community voices clearly drowned out those of the project’s opponents, including City Councilors Helen Collins, Joel Miller and Don Knight.

As Bach pointed out, the job is far from finished. C4C proponents still have to persuade Council to approve either an expanded urban renewal district as a source of local tax increment funding for the two downtown projects, or ask city voters to approve local public funding for a portion of all four projects.

The latter might be difficult, since Councilors Collins, Miller, Knight, Keith King and Andy Pico have all declared their opposition to public funding. What will they do?

“I guess they’ll either have to backtrack or find a way around it,” said Councilor Val Snider. “As for me, I support the concept and I’m looking forward to more information.”

7 Responses to Commission unanimously approves City for Champions

  1. Has no one heard that over 5 city blocks of the Downtown Stadium Project(adjacent to America the Beutiful Park, running north /south /east and over the train tracks) is contaminated soil and ground water including hydorcarbons (there is no safe level of) from the original 1876 Gas Manufacturing plant that was demolished in 1940′s…Mayor Bach has told Westsiders in 2013 that they can have street lights and bus service OR stormwater work, out
    of 2mil avail of city funds.. but Bach and His co-investor friends will get the City of Colorado Springs to spend millions on thier properties in the contaminated “Stadium” project area. What is RTA/OEDIT thinking? What is El Paso County Commissioners thinking to put county taxpayers money into this? There were no dollar quotes in the proposals for Contamination Midigation (100mil+???), or how it will negatively affect the SDS program. Mayor Bach and Gazette (owned by Broadmore Hotel Parent Company)have kept the public in the dark on all this info. And Mayor Bach is using his “Executive Authority” to syphon City Tax Revenues into accounts like “South West Development Authority”(which can “apply for Bond loans” ,to be paid for with City funds ,without voter approval), “Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority” (WAS under control of City Council) , and Colorado Springs “donations” to “Regional Business Alliance” (10k “membeship fee”, and inferred motto of “we can ruin your business if you don’t cooperate” ) to the tune of over 300k a year routed back into this project , while ”Bach and company” pocket profits thru city purchase of Privately owned property in contaminated Stadium project area,
    ALL WITHOUT VOTER APPROVAL.
    Back in Chicago, they would would call this “money laundering and racketering” …in Colorado Springs , it is called “Business as usual”
    with Mayor Bach using any department funds within Colorado Springs as his personal piggy bank (his version of “efficiences to be found in the City budget”) for the personal gain of the Mayor and his “business buddies”! How’s about a good-old “recall” election…before Colorado Springs becomes another “Detroit” for the next 30 years.

    deborah stoutmeininger
    December 16, 2013 at 12:38 pm

  2. Excellent! I’m very happy that the city got the funding approved. It will be interesting to see the improvements and the development.

    Taves
    December 16, 2013 at 4:26 pm

  3. I suspect we’ll see a tax(temporary :-)) issue on upcoming ballots to fund the matching $100M needed to really see this through to full fruition…

    Then watch Bach and his cronies pocket millions in developer costs and fees to develop the properties in which the downtown venues will be built upon. Bach NEVER did this for the benefit of our city. He’s doing it to line his and his cronies financial pockets (returning favors he could not deliver on in exchange for their votes – until now).

    Rivera hosed our city with the USOC HQ offices. Thought we’d learn a lesson, now we’ve allowed Bach to hose our city again…..hmmmm guess he’ll maybe support our local businesses or tax them out of existence…

    Ken G (
    December 16, 2013 at 7:52 pm

  4. Great news!

    the last 20 years we had plan after plan to do something and nothing was done. This gives us the chance to create a city with a heart instead of what we have at the moment a bunch of neighborhoods and no center much like Los Angeles.

    I hope that we are looking at the same time at other projects which could really transform our city into a thriving community which provides jobs for us and our children. The following comes to mind:
    1. create a shopping, dining, entertainment, tourist belt plan for Colorado avenue from down town to manitou springs. This would deal with no mans land.
    2. make downtown more pedestrian friendly (wider sidewalks, plazas with restaurants etc, live entertainment and so on). maybe we could develop arcacia park into a social hub or plaza with outdoor seating concerts and restaurants…
    3. Have CSU compete with Centurylink and comcast and provide super fast internet service to help economic development. This has been done successfully and without burden to the taxpayers in a few cities in our country
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-15/the-case-for-publicly-owned-internet-service-commentary-by-susan-crawford.html

    peter miller
    December 16, 2013 at 8:42 pm

  5. This is a great week in Colorado Springs. Now let’s create inspiring architecture and progressive people places that will bring visitors and business from around the world to our unique city!

    Bernard Sandoval
    December 17, 2013 at 1:16 pm

  6. These projects are neither visionary or progressive. Instead they are duplications of things that already exist. The mayor thinks that building another venue will somehow magically bring events to town. That hasn’t seemed to work out very well for the World Arena which sits empty most of the time. In all of these conversations it seems everyone has forgotten that the world arena was built to bring in out of state tourists by being the home of a minor league hockey team called the Gold Kings. They only lasted a few years despite how popular hockey is in Colorado. I actually had season tickets for 10 seats. Somehow we are supposed to believe that a minor league soccer team will do what the Gold King’s couldn’t? And the AFA visitor center is such a waste of tax dollars. There is already a visitor center and to pretend that people aren’t visiting it because they have to go through a security check point is absurd. Most of the out of state visitors already go through checkpoints when they board their planes to get here. Besides which, I’m guessing many of the visitors to the AFA are interested in seeing the chapel and seeing the men/women in uniform doing drills. The olympic museum has some promise but it should be located at the olympic training center instead of downtown where we will have to shuttle people back and forth putting our already aging infrastructure at more risk. And who in the world thinks that a sports medicine facility will bring tourists? And all of this is besides the point that the Mayor and his buddies did all of this behind closed doors with no public comment.

    Lorena
    December 17, 2013 at 10:36 pm

  7. It looks like I’m a month late to the news, but the removal of the baseball stadium from the plan is a major mistake for the development and the city. The Sky Sox need to move (the site is unfit for developing players for the major league team) and downtown needs a central hub to develop business.

    Just like Lower Downtown in Denver 18 years ago, Downtown Colorado Springs is dangerous, devoid of great restaurants/nightlife, and real estate development is at an embarrassing standstill. The result is fewer and fewer young people (except for a transient military population) staying put and less young talent available in the work force to grow businesses. The suburban nightmare of Colorado Springs is unsustainable, and when an aging baby boomer population retires, the city will be as dead as too many other small towns that were developed this way in the midwest 40-50 years ago.

    Coors Field changed the future for Denver. It’s created an entertainment focal point around which restaurants, bars, and urban real estate could develop. Young people (read: a sustainable work force) want to be around nightlife, public transportation, and conveniently located housing. Over 100,000 people now live in the small downtown area of Denver alone, and endless business opportunities now exist that will never be a possibility in the dregs of Colorado Springs.

    This town stopped thinking about the future years ago. I guess I shouldn’t really be surprised.

    Bivouac
    December 18, 2013 at 5:25 pm