DPS FI­NANC­ING BUILDS

Com­plex fi­nanc­ing deal also pro­vides a new school

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Jon Mur­ray

Den­ver Pub­lic Schools will pay for con­struc­tion of a fire sta­tion as part of a com­plex Sta­ple­ton fi­nanc­ing agree­ment that also will pro­vide a new el­e­men­tary school, a bridge and open space.

Den­ver Pub­lic Schools will pay for con­struc­tion of a North­field fire sta­tion — at least ini­tially — as part of a com­plex Sta­ple­ton fi­nanc­ing agree­ment that also will pro­vide a new el­e­men­tary school, a bridge and open space.

“This is about as com­plex as deals come,” Den­ver City Coun­cil­woman Robin Kniech said this week af­ter of­fi­cials from sev­eral lo­cal gov­ern­ments pre­sented de­tails of the plan to a com­mit­tee.

Of­fi­cials from the city, DPS, mas­ter de­vel­oper For­est City Sta­ple­ton, the Den­ver Ur­ban Re­newal Author­ity and the Park Creek Metropoli­tan District por­tray the agree­ment as an ev­ery­body-gives, ev­ery­body-ben­e­fits ar­range­ment. The five-party agree­ment con­sists of about a dozen doc­u­ments — in­clud­ing four that await Den­ver City Coun­cil ap­proval on April 10 — that con­cern projects worth nearly $74 mil­lion.

They will ad­dress some press­ing prob­lems: El­e­men­tary-age en­roll­ment has sky­rock­eted as the new neigh­bor­hood was built over the last 16 years, and the Den­ver Fire De­part­ment’s thin cov­er­age north of In­ter­state 70 means re­sponse times in the North­field area are nowhere near DFD’s 4-minute goal.

“We are ac­tu­ally out of ca­pac­ity for schools within the Sta­ple­ton area,” said Mark Fer­randino, DPS’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer. “We had as­sumed we would be O.K. with five el­e­men­tary schools. Now we think we will need seven el­e­men­tary schools for Sta­ple­ton,” given the area’s pop­u­lar­ity with fam­i­lies.

The deal’s ma­jor fo­cus is on Sec­tion 10, the fi­nal part of Sta­ple­ton’s North­field hous­ing de­vel­op­ments to break ground. That sec­tion spans be­tween East 56th and 64th av­enues and Cen­tral Park Boule­vard and Ha­vana Street.

Es­sen­tially, the agree­ment shifts bor­row­ing and re­pay­ment re­spon­si­bil­i­ties around, as was done for some pre­vi­ous Sta­ple­ton pub­lic projects, be­cause of the way that DURA’s tax-in­cre­ment debt is struc­tured from past projects.

Tax-in­cre­ment fi­nanc­ing, or TIF, set up for Sta­ple­ton cap­tures the grow­ing por­tion of sales and prop­erty tax pro­ceeds that are at­trib­ut­able to growth and de­vel­op­ment in the area, to be used to pay for el­i­gi­ble projects. More than 23,000 res­i­dents, along with 10 mil­lion square feet of com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment, now oc­cupy the for­mer air­port land, the city says.

Ul­ti­mately, that set-aside tax rev­enue will pay for the Sta­ple­ton area’s sixth el­e­men­tary school, the new fire sta­tion and a sec­ond bridge span on Cen­tral Park Boule­vard over Sand Creek (south of I-70). It also will pay in­di­rectly for most of the grad­ing and drainage im­prove­ments that are un­der­way in Sec­tion 10.

For all but the bridge, DPS — which needs drainage im­prove­ments and re­li­able fire cov­er­age for the school — will is­sue debt in the form of cer­tifi­cates of par­tic­i­pa­tion to cover the costs. TIF money will pass through var­i­ous chan­nels to re­pay DPS by 2025.

Sep­a­rately, For­est City plans to col­lect $12.5 mil­lion in home­builder fees on Sec­tion 10 home sites. That money will cover the es­tab­lish­ment of open space.

Coun­cil mem­bers in­clud­ing Chris Hern­don, who lives in that area, praised the deal at this week’s meet­ing of the Fi­nance and Gov­er­nance Com­mit­tee.

Here is more de­tail on the

pub­lic projects:

• El­e­men­tary school: The pro­ject will break ground north of East 56th Av­enue later this year, near the Paul San­doval Cam­pus, and the build­ing will be the home of In­spire El­e­men­tary in fall 2018. DPS will bor­row $16.5 mil­lion to cover the pur­chase of the 10-acre site from For­est City for $7 mil­lion, with the rest go­ing to­ward the city’s fire sta­tion (be­low). For­est City will use that site pur­chase money to pay for Sec­tion 10 grad­ing and drainage im­prove­ments. For the school’s con­struc­tion, DPS sep­a­rately will bor­row $36 mil­lion, with re­pay­ment from the por­tion of voter-ap­proved 2016 mill levy in­creases that is cap­tured by the Sta­ple­ton TIF.

• Fire Sta­tion: To be lo­cated on Cen­tral Park Boule­vard near East 50th Av­enue, the three-bay fire sta­tion’s con­struc­tion will be a city pro­ject. But DPS will pro­vide $9.4 mil­lion from its bor­row­ing and then be re­paid us­ing TIF rev­enue.

• Cen­tral Park Boule­vard bridge sec­ond span: Den­ver will tap into a city bud­get item this year that set aside $8.4 mil­lion for the bridge ex­pan­sion pro­ject over Sand Creek. The city will con­tract with the Park Creek Metropoli­tan District to de­sign and con­struct the bridge span, and the Den­ver Ur­ban Re­newal Author­ity will re­pay the city by 2025 us­ing TIF rev­enue.

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