The Dos Rios development got a boost Tuesday after Grand Junction's Downtown Development Authority agreed to help support the project by pledging $5.1 million for infrastructure improvements.
The authority's board voted 6-1 to authorize tax increment financing (TIF) dollars for the project at a special meeting Tuesday morning, which was attended by a majority of the Grand Junction City Council. Dan Meyer voted against the measure. Board member Josh Niernberg was absent. Board member and City Councilwoman Anna Stout abstained from the vote. TIF is a form of funding used to reinvest taxes collected back into an area.
The authority will only pledge property and sales tax increment coming from the Dos Rios development.
The Riverfront at Dos Rios is a roughly 60-acre site off the banks of the Colorado River that the city purchased in 1990. It was formerly a landfill and later a junkyard for cars known when it was known as the Jarvis property. The plan for the site includes a mix of business and residential property in addition to a currently-ongoing revitalization of Riverside Park.
"This piece was critical," Grand Junction City Manager Greg Caton said after the vote Tuesday.
Tuesday's vote represented a step in the process of the redevelopment project. That process will continue July 17 when City Council can establish a general improvement district — an entity governed by the city that can assess property taxes and issue bonds — throughout much of the development.
The district consists of property owners within the designated area who are the only ones who will vote to create it. At the moment, the only property owners who will vote on creating the district in November are the City of Grand Junction and Jen Taylor, who recently bought a parcel with plans to open a multi-acre campus that includes a cantina, event space and lodging opportunities. Sunshine Polishing, a gondola maintenance and refurbishment company, will not be included in the district. Networks Unlimited, an information technology company based in downtown Grand Junction has signed a letter of intent to purchase a parcel at Dos Rios, but is still going through the process.
Sunshine Polishing is set to break ground this fall on its new building. Taylor's projects could break ground in the spring of 2020.
The district will be able to issue $10.4 million in debt for infrastructure improvements at the site and recoup that money through the new district property tax revenue and the pledged TIF funds.
Early in the discussion, some members of the authority board and Downtown Director Brandon Stam expressed some concerns over Dos Rios competing with other downtown infill projects and the distance between Dos Rios and the downtown corridor.
Grand Junction Mayor Rick Taggart told the board that the infill opportunities between downtown and the Colorado River will be more appealing thanks to projects like this. He also highlighted the importance of developing the riverfront.
"We're the only city that doesn't have riverfront development," Taggart said. "This is an opportunity to develop one of the most valuable spaces this city owns."
EDITOR'S NOTE: The original version of this story contained an incorrect tally of the Downtown Development Board Authority's vote. The final vote was 6-1.