We have received copies of many of the letters you have being sending to our elected representatives. We’ve gotten permission to share some of them. Here is a very thoughtful one.
The following is both an economic and philosophical discussion of the Fuqua proposal. In order avoid boring you I will start with some economic issues.
I have worked on multi-billion dollar mining projects and I know that the optimal way to increase returns is to reduce upfront costs. Fuqua is proposing a $180 million project and included in that cost is $31 million payment to the University of Colorado. The UC payment represents almost 20% of the project cost. Eliminating that payment would allow him to pursue more appropriate and smaller scale options.
Also, including public financing for a project that includes a payment to a public institution is akin to robbing Peter to pay Paul.
The University’s claim that it is losing $3 million is disingenuous, since that loss includes sunk costs and costs that would be incurred with or without the project. Further, the University’s estimate also includes approximately a $12 million charge for title work. This seems out of line for a public project where the title should be relatively clean.
The University deserted the site and Denver politicians must hold it accountable which means renegotiating its sales price. Eliminating the $30 million payment, which is less than 10% of the cost of the new campus, would be good first step towards completing an appropriate redevelopment.
With regard to jobs, I would argue that there is no shortage of low wage jobs with no benefits.
I heard you speak last night and read your discussion of the project on your web site. In your write-up you say that we are choosing between development vs. no development. This is a false choice. The real choice is between good development vs. bad development.
When you consider this project I suggest that you revisit Jane Jacobs and her successful fight against the Lower Manhattan Expressway which was being pushed by Robert Moses in the 50’s. Moses’ “vision” was to build an expressway through the middle of Manhattan and eliminate what he thought were blighted neighborhoods. Jane Jacobs’ “vision” was to preserve an urban environment by fighting for the survival of urban neighborhoods. Imagine what Manhattan would be if Moses’ vision had been built and ask yourself; who was the visionary. Was bigger better?
I know this not a preservation issue, but instead, it is about how you create a new urban environment and, with respect, the Fuqua development is reactionary not visionary and does not create an urban environment. The Big Box answer is the model that has been followed for years by countless developers across the country and has led to a landscape littered with big box stores. Jane Jacobs felt that diversity was the heart of an urban neighborhood. Walmart and other chain stores do not give us diversity instead it is gives us more of the same.
I would argue that much of what the City has done in other neighborhoods would be applauded by Ms. Jacobs and that is why I am disappointed with the current proposal, which is applying old solutions. I would suggest that you and your colleagues revisit her writings. It will remind you of why you love this city and hopefully lead to better choices. . I am also disappointed that you seem to be endorsing this proposal.