A 65-acre, $250 million development that includes a hotel and conference center west of Interstate 25 and Plum Creek Parkway in Castle Rock- just a stone's throw away from Philip S. Miller Park - could get council approval by March 7 to begin work.
The town is considring a $65 million bond to pay for infrastructure on the project. The total project investment, however, could fall between $250 and $300 million.
But the 900,000-square-foot mixed-used development, dubbed Miller's Landing, faces a couple of significant hurdles: The land includes a former 9-acre landfill still full of solid waste.
Remediating the landfill will require state supervision and cost approximately $11 million, Scott Springer, managing director with P3 Advisors, the development company, said at a Feb. 21 Castle Rock Town Council meeting. Construction work would comprise the remaining $54 million of the development's price tag.
The site also has no utilities, one of the many "really, really significant challenges" to developing the property, said Springer, who gave a presentation about the project at the meeting.
The town council gave initial approval to a public finance agreement with P3 Advisors with a 4-1 vote. A second and final approval is needed to approve the public finance agreement. The next council meeting is March 7.
At the Feb. 21 meeting, District 4 Councilmember Jason Bower expresesed concerns about the project. Although the dump needs to go, he said, so much retail space could begin a "cannibalism" effect on areas like downtown Castle Rock by stealing business from the mom-and-pop stores.
"We have a lot of retail in Castle Rock right now," he said. "We have a lot of retail that still is not here, but that's planned to go in."
Miller's Landing would be about the size of the Promenade at Castle Rock, a shopping and entertainment center located between I-25 and U.S. Highway 85.
A list of potential business or retail tenants is not available. But P3 Advisors, a Chicago-based development firm specializing in public-private partnerships, says it expects to build 450,000 square feet of office space and 300,000 square feet of retail.
The flagship component to the project is a full-service hotel, no smaller than 250 rooms with a 10,000-square-foot conference center. Springer said the company hopes to attract a larger hotel, however.
"I understand what you're saying about the retail because I've struggled with that myself," Mayor Pro Tem Renee Valentine told Bower. "I'm excited about the office space."
Valentine also said that based on her previous career opening Marriott conference centers, she believes the local market needs a hotel with just over 200 rooms with a 10,000- to 12,000-square-foot conference room, and that overall, the project would benefit the town.
Miller's Landing would also include an expansion of Plum Creek Parkway, a new connector roadway, and public parking that would serve the property and provide overfill space for Philip S. Miller Park, home to attractions such as Castle Rock Zip Line Tours, trail networks and the Miller Activity Complex.
And the project will construct a trail extension alongside the remediation of a gulch forming the land's northern border. The gulch may be transformed into a greenway or riverwalk.
Downtown business owners already fear the pending effects of the Promenade development near the outlets, Bower said at the council meeting. The unfinished Promenade is still too new to offer data about its effects on businesses throughout town.
Miller's Landing has been about two years in the making between developers and town staff. Last year, the town council approved forming a Business Improvement District, a designation that allows property owners to tax themselves, and rezoning the land to allow for mixed-use development.
At the Feb. 21 meeting, where council approved the public finance agreement, Bower was the lone dissenter. Councilmembers George Teal and Brett Ford were absent. It was one of the council's first looks at more specific development plans on the site.
The public finance agreement would allow the Business Improvement District to issue bonds for the project.
Those bonds would be formed by four components: a Business Improvement District mill levy, an Urban Renewal Authority property tax, a public improvement fee imposed by the developer and a Credit PIF, or a share of the town's sales tax revenue generated on-site.
Bower noted the developers were asking for 60 percent shareback of sales taxes and 100 percent shareback of the incremental property tax - a big ask, he said. The shareback terms do not commit town funds to the project, but rather future revenue generated by the project.
He and District 1 Councilmember Jess Loban also inquired with town staff about community outreach for the project.
Although issues related to Miller's Landing have been discussed at numerous council meetings, and the developer held a public meeting concerning land uses, Town Manager Dave Corliss said they did not have a specific public outreach plan concerning the project.
Councilmembers then asked at the Feb. 21 meeting when a third-party evaluation of the project would be available. That report would evaluate numbers provided by the developer and conduct a market analysis to determine the project's feasibility. Although not completed by the first reading, Corliss said a third-party evaluation of the project by the Denver-based EPS consulting firm should be available by March 7.