Federal Center Station Neighborhood Proposal
There has been a lot of lively discussion about a proposal for Lakewood to purchase 59 acres of vacant land owned by the Federal Center, commonly referred to as the “Horseshoe Property”. Adam is still gathering information, and his decision is going to be based on facts and the best interests of Lakewood. This is a unique opportunity for Lakewood, but there are still questions that need to be answered. In order to understand the issues under consideration, here is a breakdown of some common misconceptions being shared:
MYTH- City council is rushing to make a decision without community involvement or input
There have been more than 10 years of community comments and input reflected in eight separate planning efforts from 2003 to 2015. The current city council has been working on this for years and having the elected officials that are the most well-versed in the subject seems better than kicking the can down the road for another city council and mayor, as long as some additional questions are answered. There are numerous plans that document the community input and involvement in this proposal, including the Union Corridor Station Plan (2006), the Federal Center Comprehensive Plan Amendment (2008) and the Union Blvd Corridor Urban Design Plan (2011). BOTH candidates for Mayor voted for the study as city councilors to look at this proposal and instruct city staff to work with the General Services Administration on a proposal. After the negotiation with the GSA was completed and city council had been briefed on the particulars of the proposal, they immediately set up multiple opportunities for public comment, an online survey to seek citizen engagement and held an open house so that residents would have the opportunity to meet with a variety of people involved in such a unique and complex undertaking, including environmental experts and city staff.
MYTH- The contamination is going to cost Lakewood taxpayers money for clean-up and will result in costly lawsuits
15 acres of the 59 acres under consideration are what is commonly known as a “brownfield”. Brownfield remediation, or clean-up, is common and any developer that buys the land from the city will be required to clean it up BEFORE building on it, as required by Colorado law and the CO Department of Public Health & Environment. Other brownfield sites that have seen successful development include the current St. Anthony’s hospital, Belmar, Union Station and the Pepsi Center. Here is an article in the Lakewood Sentinel that discusses brownfield development- http://lakewoodsentinel.com/stories/Lakewood-developers-see-brownfields-turing-green,199948
MYTH- Lakewood is going into the “development business”
The City of Lakewood is not a developer and never will be. The reason Lakewood is interested in this unique partnership with the GSA is because we know our residents want a timeout in development, especially along the Union Corridor and that they want a say in what this land looks like in the future. One thing is certain- the GSA is selling this excess land, whether Lakewood is involved or not. There are two options: 1. The GSA sells the land to the highest bidder and private developer who can decide the highest and best use for their profit, which can include a car dealership, lots of apartments, a public self-storage facility or a big box store OR 2. Lakewood can enter into a deal with the GSA to obtain the land so that we can spend the next few years involving residents in achieving a vision for the land’s development that takes into account increased traffic in the area, the density already occurring along the Union Corridor, the desire for part of the land to become park or open space and the need for affordable and possibly Veteran housing.
MYTH- This is an illegal proposal because the City cannot use reserves to purchase land
This proposal is not illegal. In fact, it is similar to the City of Westminster’s purchase of the old Westminster Mall site or the creation of Belmar at the old Villa Italia site. The financing of the purchase is a combination of reserves and a refinance of the City’s current mortgage, which totals just under twenty five million dollars. That money will be used to build a state-of-the-art laboratory on the Federal Center (not the horseshoe property) to be used by the Food & Drug Administration and the United States Geological Survey. When this is completed, which is approximately a 2.5-3 year timeline, the title of the 59 acres will be transferred to Lakewood. In the meantime, we would be developing a neighborhood plan with citizen input. Upon transfer of the land, Lakewood would sell it to a developer to implement the community driven vision. One thing to bear in mind is that when St. Anthony Hospital bought land from the Federal Center to build our new hospital, all the money went straight back to Washington, DC. This deal keeps the money in our local economy, along with the jobs, both for construction of the lab and high-paying jobs on the Federal Center and perhaps in the new Federal Center Station neighborhood.
Please visit www.lakewood.org/FedCenterStation to learn more about this proposal, take the survey and let Adam know what you think. You can always reach him at home 303-988-6484 or email him at email@example.com