Developer sues over retro refusal
The developer of aWalmartanchored site at 38th Avenue andWadsworth Boulevard has filed a lawsuit against Wheat Ridge and the city’sUrban Renewal Authority.
The lawsuit filed by Quadrant Wheat RidgeCorners says sections of a citizen- led ballot initiative that passed in November curbing powers of urban renewal is unconstitutional. The suit seeks a court decision that a contract signed by Quadrant and the citywon’t be affected by Ballot Question 300.
The lawsuit argues that a section in the state constitution prohibiting retroactive laws at the state level applies equally to local governments and voter- passed initiatives.
Attorney Bob Detrick said Quadrant has spent hundreds of thousands dollars getting the project into place.
“Absolutely this project is ready to proceed,” Detrick said. “All we’re asking for is the court to rule that the ballot initiative as applied retrospectively is unconstitutional.”
Quadrant also seeks unspecified attorney and other associated fees.
TheNovember measurewas approved by 52 percent of voters, winning by 358 votes.
It requires any tax- increment financing package over $ 2.5 million to be voted on by Wheat Ridge residents. The measure also takes final approval for any TIF package under $ 2.5 million away from the city’sUrban RenewalAuthority and places it in the hands of a City Council vote.
Themeasurewas retroactive to March 1 of last year; the contract between Wheat Ridge and Quadrant was signed in June.
Plans called for the site — a long- vacant 14- acre car lot — to be transformed into a mixed- use development anchored by a Walmart Neighborhood Market store alongside residential, retail and restaurant spaces.
To offset remediation and public improvement costs, the developer was awarded a $ 6.2 million tax- increment financing package inwhat the lawsuit says is a project “in excess” of $ 20 million.
“It took months and months to get everything in place and make it a package everyone was comfortable with,” Detrick said. “Adding one more layer of uncertainty to a long process in the long run will discourage developers from considering a potential site, and they will go somewhere else.”
Wheat Ridge spokeswoman Maureen Harper said it’s too soon to answer specific questions on the lawsuit.
“We have received the lawsuit, and our attorney has it for review,” she wrote the Denver Post in an e- mail. “City Council will be briefed on the lawsuit later this month.”