On Tuesday (May 6), the Woodland Park Downtown Development Authority Board met behind closed doors to decide the fate of a proposition, suggested by Gold Hill Square Shopping Center owner Bill Page, to put limits on trying to recruit current business retailers to move into the Woodland Station development. At issue is whether current tenants of Gold Hill Square should get a tax increment finance (TIF) agreement, similar to new business entities if they set up shop in the Woodland Station. With a TIF agreement, business owners can receive substantial incentives, in the form of property tax rebates.
Brian Fleer, the executive director the DDA, admitted that the issue has generated mixed opinions. The controversy deals with the subject of free enterprise and the need to support current businesses. Page has cited the large number of vacancies in his Gold Hill Square centers, a fixture in Woodland Park for decades. He has frequently approached the council about the city’s desire for achieving a successful new Woodland Station at the expense of current retailers and developers, and the need to establish a level playing field. He has cited other cities, such as Castle Rock, that have imposed similar regulations for existing businesses, when it comes to incentives.
At the same time, at least one influential DDA board member counters that Page has benefited from these incentive packages himself, with the Gold Hill Theatre project.
This discussion was not open to the public, but the DDA board may release their findings this week.