This story first ran on BizWest.com, a BusinessDen news partner.
Brue Baukol Capital Partners, the owner and would-be developer of the Redtail Ridge property in Louisville, acknowledged defeat in a special election Tuesday and said it will not seek land-use changes necessary to complete its project at the long-vacant, former Phillips 66 site off U.S. Highway 36 at the scale the company previously proposed.
If the opposition campaign maintains the nearly insurmountable advantage it had generated as of 8:14 p.m. Tuesday, the result would vacate the Louisville City Council’s approval of a plan from Brue Baukol to build as many as 3 million square feet of office, industrial and flexible-use buildings. The opposition “No” campaign had 3,591 votes, according to data from the Louisville City Clerk’s office. The “Yes” campaign trailed with 3,257.
The city still has roughly 400 votes to count. A remarkable comeback would be necessary for the “Yes” campaign to make up its deficit.
“From the beginning, our commitment to the community and our investors has been to plan and deliver the very best project that we can. We are obviously disappointed that residents have rejected the superior sustainability and open space standards contained in the Redtail Ridge plan,” Brue Baukol said in a statement provided through a spokesperson. “We will respect the will of the voters and, and therefore, we will not seek further zoning adjustments or amendments. Our next step will be to initiate the public review process with Planning Commission and City Council in order to redevelop this land according to the ConocoPhillips general development plan that was approved in 2010.”
In an earlier statement on Tuesday evening, supporters of the project appeared to acknowledge the unlikelihood of a comeback.
“This special election exceeded all turnout predictions, and we are grateful to the thousands of people who supported more open space, a safer Campus Drive, and a new home for Avista. In the end, it is Louisville that loses out on all those things, and we were simply unable to overcome the misinformation and falsehoods that stopped the most environmentally sustainable development in Colorado,” “Yes” campaign organizer Terre Rushton said. “While we acknowledge the result, we wished for a better outcome for our community.”
Should the “No” faction prevail, zoning on the Redtail Ridge site would revert to its pre-approval status, significantly curtailing the scope of potential development.
Redtail Ridge encompasses more than 400 acres along U.S. Highway 36 and Northwest Parkway. The site once housed Storage Technology Corp., which sold to Sun Microsystems Inc. in 2005 for $4.1 billion. Sun was acquired by Oracle Corp. in 2010, and employees were shifted to Broomfield.
ConocoPhillips had acquired the site for a proposed clean-energy research park that was expected to generate 7,000 jobs, but the subsequent spinoff of Phillips 66 halted those plans, and the property was put up for sale.
Brue Baukol, which paid $35 million for the site, initially sought to turn the parcel into a 5.22 million-square-foot live-work development anchored by a new corporate campus for medical-device maker Medtronic Inc. and a roughly 1,500-home senior-living community operated by Erickson Living. Additional planned components included offices, retail space and apartments.
Medtronic skipped town for a nearby site in Lafayette, and locals spoke out against the housing portion of the project, arguing that thousands of new residents would strain city resources and exacerbate traffic congestion.
Brue Baukol went back to the drawing board and brought back a scaled-back plan, which was eventually approved last year by the Louisville City Council, which applied a dozen conditions to its approval to further limit the scope of the project.
After Redtail Ridge’s plans were approved, Centura Health’s Avista Adventist Hospital confirmed that it is under contract to purchase land in the Redtail Ridge development for a new hospital on the site.
Hospital officials have said they are committed to Louisville and could seek the requisite zoning approvals from the city to allow for the construction of a hospital independent of the other proposed Redtail Ridge elements.
Almost immediately upon the city’s approval of Redtail Ridge, opponents of the project cried foul and set about gathering 780 signatures, nearly double the amount required by the city, for a petition to force the Louisville City Council to reconsider.
Rather than reversing its decision to approve the Redtail Ridge plans, the council opted early this year to send the matter to the voters.
The run-up to the special election has been contentious, with lobbying groups formed both in favor and in opposition to the plan. Both groups have accused the other of underhanded tactics in the lead up to the election.
Yes for Louisville, the pro-development faction, raised a total of $55,617.23 in monetary and in-kind contributions ahead of the March 30 financial disclosure deadline and another $37,261.99 between the end of March and April 15.
Of the total funds raised, more than $80,000 of in-kind donations came from Brue Baukol, including about $50,000 in marketing services from consultancy The Strategy Division. Opposition group Citizens for a Vibrant Sustainable Louisville raised $1,425.85 in during the first reporting period and $854 during the second.