Large-scale Broomfield development approved on split vote

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After the developer took nearly a year back at the drawing board, a large mixed-use project in Broomfield that was previously deemed too controversial has been approved.

The Broomfield City Council gave its blessing in a 7-2 vote this week to a development in Palisade Park that will add 240 rental units and 462,672 square feet of industrial and warehouse space between Huron Street and U.S. Interstate 25.

An artist’s rendering of the exterior of the commercial portion of a new development in Broomfield. (Broomfield planning documents/Courtesy photo)

The residential portion, which will be developed by Urban Frontier LLC, will be spread over 21 buildings and will complement the builder’s nearby Brownstones at Palisades Park community.

The commercial part of the project will be overseen by SunCap Property Group. The four-building campus will include two 65,000-square-foot structures, a 141,000-square-foot structure and a 191,000-square-foot structure.

The partner developers brought forth a plan for the site in January that included only commercial construction.

That proposal was met with heavy opposition. Criticism focused on the aesthetics of the big, boxy buildings; traffic congestion and safety concerns about kids playing in an area that could soon see hundreds of large trucks coming in and out; neighborhood compatibility; and negative impacts on property values.

At that time, residents and City Council members speculated that SunCap was targeting FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX), which SunCap has worked with in the past, for a distribution center.

SunCap representatives denied having discussions with the shipping giant and no mention of specific tenants was made during the planned unit development review this week.

However, during a discussion about sustainability efforts, SunCap senior vice president Mike Orr said, “We build buildings for large companies — Amazon, FedEx — all the time.”

The revised plan approved this week added the residential element to serve as a buffer between existing neighborhoods and the industrial site.

“We’re excited,” Urban Frontier managing partner Garrett Baum said. “We started the process a couple of years ago and had a U-turn about a year ago.”

One portion of the developers’ plan appeared as if it would derail the City Council’s approval. The builders agreed to pay $575,000 in lieu of building inclusionary housing onsite. That’s nearly $1 million short of what city code requires for a project of this magnitude.

“It’s really hard for me when a developer isn’t going to build the affordable housing or meet the fee,” Councilman William Lindstedt said.

“Is this the best you can do?” he said.

The answer from the developers was: Yes, that was the best they were willing to do.

It briefly appeared that the council was leaning toward postponing a vote on the development plan to give staff more time to negotiate for more affordable housing money, but Councilwoman Elizabeth Law-Evans — who earlier in the night suggested that the builders should sue the city if the project wasn’t approved — called for a vote.

Ultimately only Councilwoman Jean Lim and Councilman Deven Shaff voted against the proposal.

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