Much work remains for town, Traer Creek |

Much work remains for town, Traer Creek

NWS Traer Creek KA 04-30-10

AVON, Colorado – While the town of Avon and the developers of the Traer Creek project avoided a trial in their long-running dispute, there’s still plenty of work to do.

With an Oct. 31 trial date looming, the Avon Town Council on Oct. 11 agreed to sign a “term sheet,” the first part of a settlement in a long-running civil suit. The initial deal put off a trial but also set the stage for public review of at least part of the deal.

The town in 2008 sued the Traer Creek Metropolitan District to recover about $3 million in payments for municipal services provided to the district, as well as sales taxes intended to make up for the loss of revenue from the town’s old Walmart store.

Traer Creek then sued the town, alleging, among other things, that the town had refused to let the developers sell units at the Traer Creek Plaza building, including part of the parking garage. The town had refused that request due to matters including parking and the original lawsuit.

BNP Paribas, a financial company that holds Traer Creek’s debt, was also involved in the suits.

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According to information provided by lawyers for the town and Traer Creek, the town has spent nearly $1.2 million over the past three years. An email responding to questions added that “the other parties in the case have also expended significant sums on the litigation.”

The term sheet is more than a dozen pages of dense legalese and includes items including the way Traer Creek will refinance its debt and how a proposed water tank on the north side of Interstate 70 will be paid for. That water tank is essential to development on that part of the property, and financing and building it also requires work from the Upper Eagle River Water Authority.

It also includes language that will funnel some of the project’s sales tax and property tax money to the town. The original $3 million in back payments is also addressed, but the initial settlement states that it won’t be repaid until the metro district has repaid $96 million worth of bonds. The expected repayment date is sometime after 2030.

While much of the back-and-forth between the parties has gone on behind closed doors, Avon Town Manager Larry Brooks said some of the key elements of the settlement will be conducted in public.

Since planning and zoning matters can’t be decided in a court settlement, the town and developers will have to work out parts of the deal working through the town’s land-use process.

Some items, such as Traer Creek’s ability to sell the Traer Creek Plaza garage, are pretty much decided – Traer Creek will use proceeds from the sale to pay down principal on the metropolitan district’s bonds.

But there will be hearings about plans for a hotel and retail stores on the north side of the interstate interchange at Post Boulevard. Building commercial projects there is going to require amendments to the overall plan for the property.

Brooks said renegotiating the land use issues will essentially be a new deal with the developers, and that deal will be done in public.

“We want to make sure citizens learn about this and ask questions,” Brooks said.

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