Towns often cut deals with developers
AVON ” The Village at Avon, which includes big boxes Wal-Mart and The Home Depot, will reap more than $36 million from Avon over 25 years.
Compared to that, $2.4 million dollars over two years may be peanuts, but whenever government hands out money to a private developer, there’ll be people grumbling about it.
“It’s still a lot of money though,” said Brian Martinson, but he said giving developments some monetary help would be OK “if they subsidize our lift tickets.”
Still, the town of Avon and other small-town governments are convinced cutting development a break is the way to go.
“It was equitable,” Councilwoman Amy Phillips said of the council’s unanimous decision to approve Riverfront Village’s development. “(Council) spent 20 hours in executive sessions to make sure we were giving our taxpayers a good deal.”
Phillips said the comments she’s heard about 19-acre Riverfront Village have been 90 percent positive. “People don’t like that there isn’t parking,” she said.
While on paper, Riverfront Village seems to have money going back and forth between developer East West Partners and Avon, the town is simplifying the matter by giving $1.557 million in tax rebates.
The big Kahuna
Avon staff and council members have received many a tongue lashing over what people consider Avon’s folly ” 25 years of tax breaks to the Village at Avon.
But the town maintains the deal ” which traded tax revenues for infrastructure construction and maintenance ” was savvy. The money must be spent on streets, roundabouts, utilities and other public improvements and cannot be used to build the 1,800-acre development.
“Because Traer Creek is building its own infrastructure, there will be no additional taxes or costs placed upon Avon residents, and it relieves the town from financing it,” said Avon spokeswoman Jacquie Halburnt.
Traer Creek issued bonds to build the infrastructure, and Avon will allow the tax break until the bonds are paid off. When that happens, sometime around 2027, Avon will take over the cost of services like police and maintaining the infrastructure ” all items Traer Creek currently takes care of or contracts out to Avon.
Traer Creek must also pay Avon lost sales tax revenues from the old Wal-Mart in Chapel Square if the shops there ” Pier One, Gart Sports and Office Depot ” don’t generate the same amount of sales tax as Wal-Mart did.
Phillips said she doesn’t disagree with the Village at Avon project as a whole, but said Avon had to give up something when it made the deal ” and it wasn’t money.
“In theory the tax sacrifice is OK,” Phillips said. “But we don’t have control over how the town grows.”
Because the Village at Avon formed its own metropolitan district ” a separate entity from the city ” Traer Creek has much more freedom than East West Partners in how it wants to develop.
Not just Avon
Across the High Country, local governments are trying to entice businesses and developers by flashing a little ” or a lot of ” cash.
To the east, Dillon most recently cut grocery store City Market a tax break in order to bring a supermarket to the Summit County town. Until then, the closest grocery stores had been in Breckenridge and Frisco. Instead of allowing the Dillon Town Council to approve the subsidy, Dillon went to the voters.
“Commercial (development) was on everybody’s mind,” said Dillon Town Manager Jack Benson. “There are still people who think the Dillon town core suffered because of the development.”
But Bensen said because of the money City Market brought in, Dillon has more money for roads, water, public works and other capital projects that improve the town. Dillon is now considering helping a Harley Davidson dealership come into town, along with other retail business that would form a shopping center.
In Gypsum, an incoming Costco ” a bargain retailer that sells in bulk ” can look forward to a rebate of 38 percent of its sales tax for up to three years.
Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14621, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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