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Council raises concerns over density, aesthetics for Center Street project

Broomfield City Council raised numerous concerns on Tuesday about the proposed Center Street District mixed-use development to be located on the southeast corner of Sheridan Parkway and Colo. 7. 
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McWhinney Vice President of Community Development Kyle Harris speaks to council on Tuesday.

Broomfield City Council raised numerous concerns on Tuesday about the proposed Center Street District mixed-use development to be located on the southeast corner of Sheridan Parkway and Colo. 7. 

The Center Street District concept review prompted the city council to voice concerns about its financial impact on the city. 

The site is expected to encompass 63.42 acres and is proposed to include roughly 213,000 square feet of retail stores, restaurants and commercial spaces, including a 45,000-square-foot grocer within the Baseline development area.

Real estate and development company McWhinney is also proposing that the Center Street District include more than 13,000 square feet of maker spaces, 380,000 square feet of offices, 160,000 square feet of loft offices located above retail stores, 80,000 square feet of medical offices, a 180-room hotel and 1,060 multi-family residential units.

Broomfield Principal Planner Branden Roe said the applicant is proposing the majority of uses for the mixed-use district be horizontally mixed.

“The proposed development — due to the scale and mix of residential, local retail and non-retail commercial — produces a lower-than-anticipated fiscal impact to Broomfield,” he said.

McWhinney Vice President of Community Development Kyle Harris said Center Street would be the first phase of the overall Baseline build out that could take up to a decade.

The proposal brought up issues about the financial considerations. 

“We also have an issue with the Metro District not being able to support it,” Councilmember Heidi Henkel said.

The concern relates to development density levels that are currently proposed at 19.55 dwelling units per acre. By contrast, Metro Districts generally require a target range of 25-32 dwelling units per acre for financial sustainability.

Broomfield Economic Vitality Director Jeff Romine said the lower-than-anticipated density levels could be an issue as metro districts are typically funded through property taxes.

“It’s about timing and also assuring that balance between commercial and residential comes through because that's what helps finance the Metro District,” he said.

Henkel sought assurances in terms of timing for commercial allocations for the Center Street project.

“Can we have it in writing?” she said.

Harris noted the importance of retail to city finances.

“We share that desire to have retail because it helps us out too,” he said. “We have zero incentive to under-develop the area, but we also have zero incentive to overbuild that which the market cannot accommodate.” 

City Manager Jennifer Hoffman said Broomfield had previously relied on establishing metro districts for building initiatives.

Hoffman explained that establishing metro districts helps defray infrastructure costs for building projects, as opposed to the city or developer incurring those expenses.

“Our reliance is something we will wrestle with until we reach build out,” she said. “If you don’t produce what that metro district is anticipating, how does that affect financing of bonds?”

Romine said estimated tax revenues from developments play a crucial role for bond interests rates and payback schedules.

“The stronger revenue coming through the development will affect the bond rates, bond interest and if we will be able to make this project move forward in a rapid manner,” he said. “If that changes, it will impact how development comes forward.”

McWhinney officials will return in August for another concept review with council members.