Last Friday (March 11) members of Colorado’s Space Coalition were given an update on the plan by CAMT (Colorado Association of Manufacturing and Technology) project site selection to build a proposed Aerospace and Clean Energy (ACE) business incubator somewhere in the Metro Denver area.
According to a source at the meeting, the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation (Metro Denver EDC) that is coordinating the selection process was given direction by CAMT to provide four finalists among the 30 proposals submitted in early February by April 1, 2011. CAMT is planning an announcement of the four finalists at that time.
While the plan has not changed since February, news coverage in Loveland has gyrated wildly just this week with speculation Loveland was already selected and would be announced yesterday to speculation there is currently no time line for an announcement. One Colorado Space Coalition member who read Monday’s Loveland Reporter Herald commented to LovelandPolitics, “They're nuts.”
Today the Reporter Herald is reporting either there is no timetable yet or two finalists will be selected this week based on information provided to the newspaper by Loveland City Manager Bill Cahill.
Is Loveland Really A Contender? One issue being debated internally at the Metro Denver EDC beginning last year is whether cities like Loveland, Greeley and others farther North are really within the “Metro Denver” area. After proposals were submitted by these cities and developers on February 2, 2011 this issue was still unresolved. Tom Clark, executive Vice President of the Metro Denver EDC, told his staff the proposals coming from outside the E470 corridor (the E470 loop is often used to describe the boundaries of Metro Denver) should be evaluated along with the others though chances were slim they could be chosen.
Colorado University at Boulder and other near Denver institutions have opposed the evaluation of proposals from outside the Metro Denver area but Loveland and others remained in the stack for consideration. Most of the people working on the selection committee also live within the unofficial boundaries of Metro Denver.
LovelandPolitics has learned that Loveland’s proposal to use the aging Agilent property off Taft Ave. is receiving considerable attention by the committee. This is due to the fact Loveland proposed buying the property thus becoming the single largest contributor to the program. Despite much of the fanfare over the vision to build ACE neither CAMT nor NASA have committed funds necessary to get the project off the ground. The five year agreement with NASA, in fact, states the federal government is not providing funding for the project. (see LovelandPolitics story and the agreement).
While a number of proposals offer incentives, discounts and other financial vehicles to assist CAMT in acquiring property few contemplated buying the property with taxpayer funds and providing it back to CAMT. As one Denver based commercial real estate broker told LovelandPolitics, "At some point they are no longer really a credible buyer for the property but instead just using it as a vehicle to fund an idea that has no money behind it."
Loveland is considering proposals from Don Marostica's Loveland Commercial, McWhinney Enterprises, The Neenon Company of Ft. Collins, Orton (a California firm) and Old Vine/Zing! of Ft. Collins to redevelop the property still owned by Agilent. The City of Loveland already eliminated Next Generation Holdings LLC of Loveland and IRG of Downing from consideration. In its proposal to CAMT Loveland promised to give CAMT a part in deciding which contractor to choose if Loveland is chosen to help fund ACE. McWhinney's interest was described as anemic while Don Marostica's Loveland Commercial is believed already by some to be the most favored proposal. Don Marostica helped coordinate CAMT's announcements of the agreement while he worked for Governor Ritter. Some credit Marostica with convincing CAMT to consider communities north of Ft. Collins when they previously identified the optimal location to be somewhere between Boulder and Longmont for the ACE campus.
Many news stories have provided the public misleading information on ACE. Not only has the federal government through NASA only provided moral support stipulating they cannot fund ACE and even backing off the commitment for one employee by instead suggesting it could be a NASA fellow who is resident at the location. CAMT is a trade association and doesn't have the deep pockets necessary to fund the project as they survive on money from member dues and occasional government grants. Therefore, some on city staff are questioning whether Loveland is selling CAMT or has CAMT sold Loveland on funding their project.
Is The City Looking To Amend the MFA (Master Financing Agreement) with McWhinney for ACE? LovelandPolitics has confirmed the MFA amendment request by McWhinney is unrelated to their redevelopment proposal on the Agilent property. The MFA amendment request discussed by council in closed session March 1, regards a different project potentially involving tax dollars not yet released to the public but known only to McWhinney, city staff and council.
Loveland Proposes To Be Largest Contributor To ACE Four Finalist To Be Announced Around April 1