Loveland's Independent News Source
Loveland, November 8, 2014

Though he arrived in Loveland only six years ago, Mike Scholl is rapidly remaking the city's
downtown into his own vision of massive urban redevelopment at a pace unseen in
Loveland's history.  

Instead of small historic projects, Scholl's projects are ambitious as they are large often
displacing residents, demolishing historic buildings and plowing millions of city tax dollars
into corporate subsidies for the likes of the developers of the Sprout's supermarket,
Michaels Development Co. of New Jersey and the Brinkman project.   And yes, the corner of
287 & Highway 34 is now officially recognized as part of Loveland's downtown according to
new boundaries drawn-up by Scholl and adopted by the city council just in time for the
Sprouts $2.3 million subsidy.

Despite his subdued manner and modest title, Scholl's influence in city hall earned him the
nickname among colleagues of "King Mike" for his ability to get his way with an otherwise
divided city council.  Even Loveland's City Manager, Bill Cahill, has been known to seek help
from Scholl when navigating the conflicted political agendas and egos of Loveland's nine
city council members.

The Origins of Loveland's "King Mike"

While the City of Loveland is over 1,000 miles due west of the decaying metropolis of
Detroit Michigan, Scholl made that long journey with his family back in 2008 like many
others before him.  Most of greater Detroit's diaspora fall into one of two categories; those
who embrace the politics of central economic planning implemented by progressive
Democrats who have governed the city uninterrupted since 1961 or those who fled from it
looking for a different model of local governance.  Scholl counts himself among the former.

A political science major from the University of Michigan, Scholl once served as an aid to
Detroit political legend and Democratic
Congressman John Dingell.  Later, Scholl would say
he left politics for his true passion, urban planning.   Scholl claims Master's Degrees in
Public Policy and Urban Planning from the University of Michigan; Detroit's West Point for
training the nation's most aggressive urban planners.

Scholl spent three years under the tutelage of Jay C. Juergensen at his urban
redevelopment firm Juergensen & Associates.  Juergensen served in the mid-1990's as the
Assistant General Manager of Detroit's Housing Commission.  Juergensen, a wealthy and
successful developer in his own right, would later build his firm into a trusted partner for
city and county governments across Michigan looking to aggregate multiple privately
owned parcels into larger heavily government subsidized projects than turned private
again.  Scholl spent his time with Juergensen learning how to usher "urban revitalization"
plans for local communities throughout the greater Detroit area.

Like an apostle spreading the good word, Scholl is anxious to discuss his experiences
working for Michigan's Washintaw County as the "
Community Collaborative" a post he
held prior to being hired in Loveland from 2005-2008.    Likely out of caution for his ability
to move about Loveland's diverse political circles, Scholl has scrubbed any references to his
time working for Congressman Dingell from his LinkedIn webpage and city staff biography.  

Combining his political skills with his urban planning expertise, Scholl navigates
Loveland's city politics using lessons he likely learned from Congressman Dingell to get his
way while applying Detroit style back-room meetings to pressure commercial property
owners reluctant to sell to the city.  The once taboo term of Eminent Domain (where a city
takes someone's property by government fiat) is now becoming common within city hall as
Scholl's influence is growing
as in the Michael's deal.

History Of Detroit's Planning Kings

Michigan State student Robert Goodspeed, documented the origins of the Detroit
redevelopment projects which differ from other large cities.  Of particular interest to many
is why Detroit failed so terribly as a city while so many other urban centers dependent on
single failing industries (like Ohio's steel belt cities) didn't fall apart like Detroit did when
there was a downturn in the local economy.

His 2004 thesis for an honors in history titled, "Urban Renewal In Postwar Detroit, The
Gratiot Area Redevelopment Project: A Case Study, states,

"Perhaps in no other U.S. city in the postwar period were the ideas of planners so fully
realized. City officials spent millions building new infrastructure and facilities, and the
city of Detroit Planning department was renowned nationwide."

Albert Eugene Cobo, Detroit Mayor in the late 1950's, pioneered the school of
public/private economic development Scholl has implemented in Loveland.  According to
"Cobo would remove the administration of city “redevelopment” out of the
purview of the Housing Commission entirely, creating a special unit charged with “slum
clearance.” To Cobo, the matter was clear:

“I feel that we must acquire the land in these backwards sections, that we must remove
the building therefrom, and sell the property back to private individuals for

Allowed to implement Cobo's theory of redevelopment for downtown Loveland, Scholl even
successfully set-up the city's redevelopment for downtown Loveland in the city's economic
development department instead of planning.  Using not very subtle threats of eminent
domain, aggregating smaller lots into larger ones through purchases by the city and
ignoring the complaints of smaller property and business owners, Scholl has re-created the
very situation described in Goodyear's thesis as,

"What planners persistently failed to realize was that the urban form they advocated
and its effect, either destroying existing communities or creating new communities were
intimately connected. Many small-time businesses and landlords saw their sources of
independence and income forcibly bought out, and the massive destruction of housing
without adequate relocation policies placed additional stress..."

Eminent Domain for Private Purposes

The Castle Coalition, a group opposed to the use of eminent domain for private purposes,
documented the 1981 Michigan Supreme Court decision named "Poletown" as paving the
way for Detroit city economic development planners to bulldoze a large section of the
community to make way for a General Motors Automobile factory promising jobs.   That
development decision is listed among the group's
10 worst uses of eminent domain in our

Anyone familiar with the case, may recognize fellow Michigan State alumni of Scholl
arguing for subsidizing the larger corporation to the detriment of the smaller businesses
and property owners.   Exactly the criteria provided by Loveland staff as to why they
refused to consider cash subsidies for the independent Crunchy Grocer supermarket but
will now donate approximately one-third of the Sprout's development costs to locate in

It is important to note Scholl's approach to redevelopment cannot simply be described as a
"Left" or "progressive" approach since it is not necessarily practiced in many large cities
also controlled by Democratic mayors or their Democratic city councils majorities.  It is a
unique view of the city's role and vision for redevelopment, like Scholl and Detroit, which is
"Pure Michigan."

How Loveland Now Mimics Detroit

Mike Scholl has exploited the stated desire of many in the community and council to do
something” with downtown.  For some, "something," means “anything” and when the city
is custodian for some $200 million in dedicated reserves the temptation becomes too great
for local politicians looking for a legacy to misappropriate those reserves for another
downtown "
catalyst" project.

The change in Loveland Scholl has successfully created is the unmooring of council from the
city's traditional conservative fiscal policies.  

The City of Detroit, for example, provided $4.2 million in incentives to bring a Whole Foods
to their downtown and they are now preparing for a $450 million dollar “
catalyst” project.  
In other words, no matter how sick the patient the same remedies of heavily subsidizing
certain businesses to locate into the city continue unabated as in the past.

Despite failing streets, underfunded services and now rising crime, the City of Loveland has
earmarked an additional $6 million to acquire even more properties downtown for the
Michaels Development Group.  This while the Rialto Project, sold to the city council as a
money making catalyst for the city, is hemorrhaging approximately half a million per year
in cash and staff resources.  Most of the $6 million council set aside now will buy properties
that are to be deeded to the Michaels Development Group as part of another Scholl
development scheme for downtown Loveland.

The Michael's Group project will be the city's fourth "
catalyst" project in as many years
without any honest assessment or course correction from lessons learned after previous
catalyst" projects failed to meet expectations.  Scholl's regular use of the same
redevelopment clichés from the
Detroit Economic Growth Corporation Progress Reports is
uncanny.  In fact, one could slightly change the figures and the reports appear identical to
those he produces for the City of Loveland.

Terms such as catalyst, incentive, and public-private partnership seem to be used as
reasons to spend down the city's limited discretionary funds (and its reserves) while the
hard metrics needed to assess the success or failure of such projects seems to be missing.

In this way, Loveland's new downtown economic development process appears
indistinguishable from the same programs Scholl's mentors initiated in Detroit years ago.  
The programs are sold on ambitious promises of the future with little to no reflection on
whether these techniques have succeeded in the immediate past.
"King Mike" Takes Over
Downtown Redevelopment
                        Daryle Klassen

Date: Thu, 6 Nov 2014

As a former member of the Loveland City council, and
supporter of every economic development proposal that
came before me, I have to comment on the pure folly and
naked unfairness the council is considering on the Sprouts
$2.2 million gift.  

To be sarcastically equal in attempts to be fair for all, I have
some recommendations for council to consider in their
ambitious economic development efforts.  Remember
now.....This $2.2 million is not a loan, it is an outright gift.  

The city calls it a loan, but it is repaid with our own city sales
tax dollars.   As Jackie Gleason used to say...."How sweet it
is !"  For Who ??

Recommendation #1   I had to take my Cadillac to Fort
Collins for some inspection.  We have a leakage here, and I
propose we gift $2.2 million to an auto agency who will bring
a Cadillac Dealer ship to Loveland.  They can pay us back
with our  sales tax dollars.
Recommendation #2
  Our city handles its banking
transactions with a Fort Collins Bank.  We have a real
leakage problem here.  I recommendation we offer $2.2
million to a large corporate bank who will come to Loveland
and bring this leakage home.  They can pay us back with our
own sales tax dollars !
Recommendation #3    We need a huge truck stop right here
in Loveland, besides the one in Johnstown.  I recommend
we offer some company $2.2 million to come build a huge
truck stop in Loveland, and stop that leakage going to
Johnstown.  Remember, they could pay us back with our
own sales tax dollars, just like the Sprouts deal.

Recommendation #4   Downtown Loveland needs a dinner
theater.  This is another leakage going to Johnstown.  We
should offer $2.2 million to anyone who would build a dinner
theater in downtown Loveland.  And when built, they could
pay us back the "loan" with our own sales tax dollars.  A
dozen other leakage needs could be named, also deserving
of $2.2 million gifts.
Fair is Fair !  Since we so desperately need to fill these
needs in Loveland,  why not continue the city council's foray
into the banking business ?  The city needs to get registered
with the State of Colorado's Banking regulators.
One question being asked fervently in council hearing
is....."What sort of re-distribution of sales tax dollars will take
place if and when Sprouts is open ??"  

No answer was forthcoming, and all parties interested in
getting Sprouts into town dodged the question very artfully.   
However, I gave Loveland's city staff  the names of two
grocery managers, one who had been manager of the
downtown Safeway for about 20 years, and another
Gentleman who had been manager of Albertsons for about
20 years, call them, and they will tell you with fairly accurate
summations what is going to happen to Safeway,
Albertsons, King Soopers, and especially the Crunchy
Grocer when Sprouts opens.  These gentlemen had been
managing our local stores when additional competition
opened in Loveland.   

Did the city's staff economic promoter call these learned
men,  seeking answer(s) to the sales tax re-distribution
problem ?   NO!   Rest assured, serious re-distribution of
our existing sales tax dollars will take place.  And Sprouts
has a pretty good idea of the amount.

There is a major fairness issue here.  Notice King Soopers
is doing a huge expansion.  Do they get $2.2 million to help
them out in this competitive situation ??   NO !

Safeway and Albertsons have been 50 year sales tax
collectors in Loveland, and completed competitive
expansions.  Have they received $2.2 million to fairly
compete ??   NO !
Then, there's the story of the Crunchy Grocer.  They
requested some up front helping dollars, and were told to go
fish, ending up with some "appropriate" assistance from the
city.  No way with up front dollars, but the billion dollars
Sprouts corporation is lined up to receive a  $2.2 million gift
from the city.   How level is this competition playing field ?

Then, there's the facade story about how this is enhancing
our poorly performing Portfolio dollars, charging  Sprouts 3
per cent, while our portfolio earns a paltry 1 per cent.  Well,
since Sprouts will be repaying the "loan" with our own sales
tax dollars, and we want to enhance the return into our city's
portfolio, why not charge them 6 or 7 per cent, since they are
REPAYING THE "loan" with our own sales tax dollars !!  We
are paying the interest to OURSELVES!!

I believe in level playing fields, with equal treatment to all,
fairness in competition.  We all would like for Sprouts to
come to Loveland.  They are very smart and clever business
folks.  They see Loveland's anxiousness, and are playing
our city council like a tom tom, and council is dancing to their
every beat .  

Daryle Klassen
Loveland City Council member , 2006-13

PS:  Loveland needs a broadcast radio station.  Please gift
me $2.2 million and I'll bring one into town.
Loveland Economic Development
Manager Mike Scholl is nicknamed
"King Mike" in City Hall.

The Michigan transplant is strategic
about sharing his political leanings
and history within the community