The $30 Land Deal project is not compatible with Olde Town Arvada and has many problems; not least, of course, is the selling of millions of dollars of publicly-owned land to a private, for-profit developer for $30.
And ... a court challenge has been initiated by Arvada for All the People for the illegal way in which the project was approved. The so-called 'Olde Town Residences' apartment complex is far from a done deal -- the land is still owned by the public and a judge has yet to decide if the city council did indeed break Arvada law when they voted on the plan this past March.
In the May 24 edition of the Arvada Press, Mayor Marc Williams penned a guest column attempting to defend the controversial $30 Land Deal project.
On June 14, 2018, at the top of the editorial page of the Arvada Press, a rebuttal essay was printed (see below).
Here is the reply article as originally submitted to the Arvada Press.
It's Still a $30 Land Deal:
No Matter How Much Lipstick is Put on the Pig
by Dave Chandler
Arvada for All the People
Prime real estate in Arvada to be sold for $30. No matter what Mayor Marc Williams says in his Arvada Press Guest Column of May 24, that's what it is.
The plain fact is that nine acres will be sold for $30 to a private, for-profit developer – it's in the contract. Go look it up for yourself and see it in black-and-white. No matter how much Mayor Williams tries to spin this into a government “investment” the sale price is still only $30.
Trammell Crow’s $75 million contribution is necessary at that level only because government – the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority – is dictating what kind of development this must be. If the project was market-driven, compatible with the area, and site appropriate, the developer's cost would also be reasonable and fitting for the current market.
Any alleged economic benefit that might accrue from this government mandated complex is complicated by the subsidies it is to receive. All sales and property taxes generated will be rebated to Trammell Crow until 2034. This project gets a free ride on city services unlike other Arvada businesses. Tax Increment Financing (TIF) used here diverts tax dollars back to the developer that would otherwise go to Jeffco schools, the Fire District, the Apex Recreation District, and other voter-approved taxing authorities.
Then there are compatibility issues. Lack of services is still a tremendous problem for a project of this magnitude. There simply isn't a grocery store or other basic services in close proximity – this means more vehicular traffic on already overburdened Wadsworth Bypass. For Olde Town and the G-line, 'traffic congestion avoidance' could become a serious problem as potential customers seek to stay away from long lines, overcrowded streets, and lack of parking.
And let's be clear: no one “would prefer to leave this blighted land exactly as it is.” This is a straw man argument. Arvada for All the People and everyone we have engaged with on this issue wants to see this site developed. The points of contention are only that a project be site appropriate, compatible with Olde Town, and that the development not be subsidized by Arvada taxpayers.
Then there is the underhanded way in which this project was railroaded through after it had been rejected by the City Council on January 22, 2018. This issue was not addressed by Williams at all.
This is a very serious point. The City Council, the elected representative body of our community, went through all the required procedures, citizens participated in the process, and a council majority made a decision – they voted 'no' to the $30 Land Deal. Yet, we know through a Colorado Open Records Request, that factions within City Hall were immediately discussing how to manipulate the law and overturn what had become the official decision of a council majority.
On March 19, the Arvada city council in a very irregular maneuver, passed a parliamentary motion – not a resolution, not a First Reading ordinance – but a motion that illegally, in our opinion, allowed them to rehear the Olde Town Residences plan less than an hour later.
The law was manipulated for the benefit of a particular developer and for the advantage of Arvada Urban Renewal. Citizens were excluded from important decisions. The people were deprived of meaningful time for engagement with their elected representatives. Due process was thwarted in a prejudicial manner.
Arvada for All the People has reluctantly initiated a lawsuit over this episode because the principle at stake has a profound impact on how Arvada citizens can be treated by their government. If we don't triumph, it could mean that in the future a contrived motion could be presented to the city council and if passed could subvert the plain meaning of the law.
In other words, Arvada government becomes lawless.
If we win, it means that all agencies of Arvada government must follow the law. No special procedures for special developers – everyone must be treated the same.
Let our democratic system work properly; let the American free enterprise and market system work as it is supposed to, and undoubtedly a development will be built on the site that will give Arvada taxpayers an immediate return and that will be productive and sustainable for years to come.
Arvada City Hall kept citizens opposed to the $30 Land Deal
in the dark, illegally rushing the process for another public hearing.
Citizens were denied the right to effectively engage
with our elected representatives.
The only way for citizens to enforce the law is to go to court.
But we don’t have taxpayer dollars to fight for justice.
We need your help!