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Eagle River Station’s no silver bullet

Anne Egan
Eagle, CO, Colorado
newsroom@vaildaily.com

Regarding your column, “Rogers: The tempest to come,” these are the reasons why building Eagle River Station is not a good idea:

– You stated that ERS would be generating approximately $2.5 million each year. This figure is based on a 95 percent occupancy and is the “best-case scenario.”

Fact: We called the two top leasing agents for RED Development, and they candidly said that presently their occupancy rates are between 50 percent and 60 percent although they “aim for 85 percent.” In the present economic climate, with many retailers going out of business, it’s hard to believe that even a 50 percent rate could be met here in a rural area. Also, at the last meeting, the town planner stated that the revenues would only be around $200,000 for at least a couple of years.

There is also the “cost” of ERS to the town of Eagle, which the developer has figured at $800,000 per year. Their figures are probably low. For instance, they say ERS will have no impact to the existing town streets, its residents will not use Eagle parks for recreation and there are no figures on costs to the school system included in the fiscal impact statement. These costs to the taxpayers must be figured in to get to a real bottom line.

Additionally, it makes no sense to any layperson (let alone any business people) to give up the entire 4 percent town of Eagle sales tax to the Eagle River Station Metro District (in the district). I thought your point was that the town needed tax revenue! We’d be giving up almost $6.8 million only to get the 1.4 percent PIF tax that will probably only generate $1 million, if that!

While some of the money that would go to the ERS metro district would be for town improvements (water, sewer, interchange), that is a much smaller proportion when compared with what is needed for ERS and only for ERS. And it sure does stretch my notion of public/private “partnership” when the private developer gets the entire 4 percent town of Eagle sales tax and the public gets the add-on PIF of 1.4 percent, thus making our sales tax almost 10 percent! Who’s going to travel 20 to 30 miles to pay 10 percent sales tax on top of what they are already buying? These people want discounts, not add-ons!

You believe that the location is good. I beg to differ with you. Eagle is a highly visible small town that happens to be located on I-70. That acreage is the gateway to our town. Why would we want to look like Anytown, USA, with yet another sprawling mall/strip center?

Preserving our Western heritage was strongly supported by people who took the time to answer the 2007 town survey, along with making comments for our Eagle Area Community Plan.

The best location for malls/big-box shopping is by Costco and the airport. If our town manager had not been asleep at the wheel, we could have annexed that area years ago, and we wouldn’t be in this financial mess.

He had a second shot at it when Gypsum was willing to offer a higher percentage of cost-sharing in that area to create regional shopping in the airport area. But again, Eagle, with the town manager’s lack of foresight, let that slip away, too! Regardless, ERS is no silver bullet and has no guarantees.

– You believe that a mall, with its own private interchange right off I-70, wouldn’t hurt existing businesses in Eagle. I have asked many of these businesses, and they all feel that it would hurt their businesses ” maybe even put them out of business.

Many people wonder why more new businesses aren’t opening in Eagle and why certain buildings on Broadway have not been remodeled.

I will tell you why. Because they are waiting to see if ERS is approved.

They have said to many of us that they are “waiting” because they feel that ERS would have a competitive advantage over them because of the location.

On top of all this, RED now says that it will not start building for two or three years.

This will only put off more reluctant, potential business owners in Eagle along with hurting Eagle’s tax coffers even more!

Have you ever seen all of Eagle’s five business districts at full occupancy? No! I think we should support infill and get all of our existing business districts flourishing before we add a whole new town.

Even RED said in a mailer last year, “We are in the business of creating towns.” Do we really want or need a whole new Eagle?

You said, “I believe it (ERS) would be good for fostering Eagle’s small-town community values.” How a 572,000-square-foot big-box mall with 581 housing units can foster small-town values is beyond me! Not only that, but this development would be like creating a “second” downtown!

– If you think Eagle is “too small,” move somewhere else, for goodness sake. Don’t bring the city to us! We moved here for what it is: a charming small-town community.

ERS would negate everything we moved here for. Just say no to ERS! Let’s dare to be different.

Anne Egan

Eagle


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