Negotiations With United Properties Begin Reporter-Herald Reports Erroneous Information
Loveland - June 22, 2011
The Loveland City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to conclude the purchase of the HP/Agilent campus in Loveland for $5.5 million to assist with the creation of the ‘ACE Project.’ The total appropriation for the Agilent campus acquisition is $5,745,000 including closing costs. The appropriation is mostly being funded by money borrowed from the city’s Water Fund Reserve.
According to a ‘Letter of Intent’ circulated to members of Loveland's City Council just before their meeting, United Properties agreed to an exclusive 60 day period to negotiate a purchase but not much else. Loveland City Manager Bill Cahill told Council the first 30 days will be to allow United Properties to propose terms and the second 30 days to negotiate those terms with the city. In other words, the terms the city circulated to developers earlier this year as a perquisite to enter an exclusive negotiation with the city to buy the former Agilent property have not been accepted to by United Properties.
Councilwoman Carol Johnson asked both Cahill and a representative of United Properties, Kevin Kelly, why the proposed terms in the city's request for proposals (this includes the sales price of $3.5 million) are not being used as a negotiation starting point and expressed concern United Properties has not yet committed to the project. Kelly responded, “ I just don’t know yet how all that is going to fit together…it is hard for me to answer that today…we will just have to see what transpires.”
Johnson told Kelly she assumed that after having the proposal for many months United Properties would have already formed a position on the sales terms proposed by the city for the Agilent property. Kelly responded, “We haven’t really been studying this for months it has been a much shorter period of time….we need the time to determine if this is feasible.”
These questions and answers were in stark contrast to the festive atmosphere that prevailed in a special meeting the City Council held June 9, to announce CAMT's decision to select United Properties for the project.
Councilman Hugh McKean questioned, “Would there be some comfort on your part on closing pretty quickly after that 60 day mark?” McKean expressed his concern the city will be holding the property too long after closing on the property this Thursday without any purchase commitment by United Properties. Kelly responded, “The challenge we don’t want to have is to close and not have a plan - not have a viable plan with tenant demand shortly thereafter.” Kelly explained that United Properties still needs to interview potential tenants, examine the property along with consultant reports and conduct their own due diligence before a price or other terms can be proposed for negotiation.
During the special council meeting June 9, the City of Loveland announced CAMT (Colorado Association for Manufacturing and Technology) decision to use United Properties as their partner in the ACE Project. Various local and state officials who attended that meeting publicly congratulated the city as if the deal was done. Later, some expressed concern that Loveland may have painted itself into a corner by announcing the buyer and developer of the project without first negotiating the terms of the property sale – not even the price. This became clear to the invited guests when Mayor Gutierrez began reading questions aloud for United Properties from members of the city council.
One ongoing problem with the ACE Project are comments made by its promoters that mislead the public regarding NASA's role in the project and become legitimized by local journalists when the erroneous information is repeated in news stories as fact.
Reporter-Herald Story In Error
Today’s Loveland Reporter-Herald (6-22-11), for example, attempted to draw certain parallels between Loveland’s proposed ACE Project and the NASA Ames Center in California.
The front page article by Tom Hacker stated;
“NASA Ames director Michael Marlaire, who visited the Agilent campus, has said he will consult on the ACE center’s development.”
Located in Northern California, NASA Ames Research Center is one of NASA’s only 10 centers around the country. Michael Marlaire is not the director of NASA Ames as reported by the Loveland Reporter-Herald. Retired U.S. Air Force General Simon “Pete" Worden has been directing NASA Ames since 2006. Warden has not toured the proposed ACE Project location in Loveland nor is he consulting on Loveland’s ACE Project.
On page A2, Hacker’s article continued under the title, “Council: Ames Research Center a model.”
NASA Ames has over $3 billion invested in equipment, 2,300 employees and a $600 million annual budget from NASA. Loveland’s ACE Project has the city's contribution of buying the land for under $6 million, no direct funding from NASA and one "ombudsman" from NASA. Promoters of the project claim it will create between 7,000 to 10,000 jobs.
Michael Marlaire directs the NASA Research Park. In 1994 the Federal Government closed Moffett Field military base and turned-over the vacated property to NASA Ames. Together with the cities of Sunnyvale and Mountain View NASA Ames embarked on an ambitious plan to create a technology center that has been in development for the past 15 years.
Founded originally in 1939, as an aeronautics research laboratory, NASA Ames was the second of NASA’s 10 field centers (NASA was added to the name after 1958 when the agency was created) and is surrounded by the world’s wealthiest high-tech companies in the Silicon Valley. Universities partnering with the adjacent research park include Carnegie Melon and the University of California. Literally hundreds of millions of public dollars have now been invested by the adjacent cities, State of California, Federal Government to develop the Research Park. Even neighbor Google kicked-in funding and resource through an agreement with NASA Ames in 2005
Like Loveland’s ACE Project, the NASA Research Park tries to assist companies in commercializing NASA and other government patents through contracting vehicles known as SBIR’s and STTR’s. Among the advantages the Research Park enjoys include its co-location with a NASA Center along with proximity to major technology firms and leading academic institutions.
Mayor Cecil Gutierrez has worked hard over the past 3 years to shift the city’s focus away from more retail on I-25 and towards primary jobs in the corps of the city. Any redevelopment of the old Agilent campus will benefit Loveland as a whole provided tenants can be found for the center. NASA or some large private employer need to make a significant investment in Loveland's ACE Project before anyone can really compare Loveland’s ACE Project to NASA Ames long standing center in California.
Loveland Mayor Cecil Gutierrez confers with City Manager Bill Cahill on ACE