Board Leaders Skeptical About Developer’s Latest Pursuit
The major topic at last week’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) meeting centered once again on the development of Woodland Station, and whether the proposed plans are feasible.
Developer Mike Williams joined the meeting, via Zoom, for the second consecutive time, to answer questions about his proposal to develop the land, located in the heart of the downtown district.
At their November meeting, the DDA board agreed to a 90-day exclusive agreement with Williams. The agreement allows Williams 90 days to come up with some plans for the property without another developer proposing a project for the land. Williams has been interested in developing Woodland Station for almost two years but has had trouble coming up with the right plan and landing serious investors. This has been a familiar trend for developers at this site, once viewed as the commercial anchor of future activity in Woodland Park.
During last week’s meeting, the board grilled Williams on issues that still concern some members of the DDA Board Chairperson Merry Jo Larsen said she wants to see some concrete proof that Williams can come up with the funding necessary to develop the property. She said, “We’d like to see that funding, even before we see a really complete usable plan.” Larsen went one step further, suggesting that the board would like to meet with Williams’ investment team, not just him.
Williams agreed that a meeting with the investors could be done at some time in the near future, whether it be a formal or informal meeting. Williams said, “I’m not opposed to any of those.” He said he is waiting on the deliverables that the board wants so he can pass that on to his team.
Rusty Neal, the city council liaison to the DDA, said he wanted to know about the city ‘s cost for infrastructure improvements to the property, and an estimate of revenues generated by the project to cover those costs. Williams agreed to reveal those numbers.
As the discussion continued, the idea that providing all the material wanted by the board may require a further extension of the 90-day agreement. There was no outward objection to a possible extension, but a few members of board appeared little nervous about Williams’ ability to pull off the project.
This led to a discussion on what to do if Williams’ plan fizzles out. DDA Board Member Arden Weatherford reminded the board that the “clock is ticking” on an agreement with the city over development of the land. Larsen responded that board member Al Born had contacted several realtors about listing the property to no avail.
The discussion then turned the DDA’s past failed romance with Williams’ previous pursuit for the project. At one time, williams unveiled an elaborate multi-use development, including plans for entertainment, retail and an event hub. Williams has submitted proposals to the DDA for developing Woodland Station since 2019 and those plans have never materialized.
The board is now show signs of reluctance to continue down a path with Williams, unless some solid financial, investor, and plans are soon forthcoming.
This property site has mostly sat idle for nearly two decades.