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Butterball redevelopment update

Posted on: Nov 1 16

by: admin

Longmont Times-Call

South Main Station #CRE developers are willing to provide extra money to improve the First Avenue and Emery Street intersection, but they need an extra year to start construction.

Niwot-based developer and property owner 150 Main Street is planning to turn the old Butterball turkey plant site into a 315 high-end apartments and 9,500 square feet of commercial space along Main Street at First Avenue.

The project is a public-private partnership between 150 Main Street, the city and the Longmont Downtown Development Authority.

City staff told the council in October that the developer needs a year and a month extension on a deadline in the contract that requires start of construction by Dec. 1. The new deadline to start construction would be Dec. 31, 2017.

Because the lending market for apartment buildings has tightened, the developers need more time to pursue loans, 150 Main Street representative Brian Bair told the council in October.

The developer plans to apply for both a federal Housing and Urban Development Department loan and conventional debt financing to finish the project, Longmont Redevelopment and Revitalization Manager David Starnes wrote in a memo to council.

Starnes noted in the memo that if the council does not grant the extension, it would cause 150 Main Street to default on the contract.

#Longmont has reimbursed 150 Main Street $660,000 so far for demolition costs. The $590,000 remaining balance of Longmont’s $1.25 million part of  the deal is due to 150 Main Street in three phases— when construction starts, when construction is complete and to use on demolition costs on the other properties after the main building is done.

If Longmont didn’t grant the developer the extension, “the city would most likely not be able to recover the initial $660,000… for demolition and cleanup costs because no claw back provisions were included in the original (contract),” Starnes wrote.

The developer so far has paid $9.02 million for the project, including $1.25 million for demolition of the old turkey plant, $849,000 for cleaning up coal ash that was found beneath the plant foundations and $4.46 million to buy the property. No debt has been used yet in the project, Starnes wrote.

The project had an estimated cost of $66.5 million in early October.

The LDDA has not spent any money on the project so far. The LDDA will reimburse the developer $1.68 million when certain aspects of the construction are complete.

First and Emery

Additionally, the developer has agreed to split the extra cost associated with keeping Emery open at First Avenue to pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

The city and 150 Main Street originally agreed to split the estimated $1 million cost of improving the area 50/50.

But the intersection is more complicated than expected. Three Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks run parallel to First, just north of where Emery meets First Avenue. There’s also a fourth part of a track in the pavement that has been truncated.

The number of tracks means that traffic engineers essentially must expand a rail crossing, installing gates and lights to stop people southbound on Emery from entering the tracks, and prohibiting people on First from turning north on Emery.

City staff now estimate improving the intersection to make it safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers will cost $1.8 million due to specialized gates and stoplights.

The Longmont council directed staff to find out if the public thought it was worth the extra money to keep the intersection open, when it would have been much cheaper to close it and have Emery end in a cul-de-sacs north of First.

Staff released a survey on the issue and received 140 responses— 79 percent of which said they would like the intersection to remain open.

In September, the council approved keeping the intersection open and budgeted $800,000 in 2017 to make it happen.

Because 150 Main Street is willing to keep the 50/50 agreement, it will save Longmont $400,000. Both 150 Main Street and the city will pay $900,000 of the $1.8 million cost if council amends the contract. Karen Antonacci: 303-684-5226, antonaccik@times-call.com or twitter.com/ktonacci

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