Eminent-domain use near for Twin Peaks
After more than a year of negotiations, Dillard's representatives are considering a final offer from Twin Peaks Mall developer NewMark Merrill Mountain States Wednesday. If Dillard's does not come to an agreement with the developer, Longmont city officials could authorize the use of eminent domain on the Dillard's property on Tuesday, April 9, or earlier, Longmont Mayor Dennis Coombs said Tuesday night.
"Eminent domain" is the term used to describe a government's legal right to take private property for public use after compensating a property owner.
Dillard's spokeswoman Julie Bull did not return requests for comment. Neither did Allen Ginsborg, the project developer at NewMark Merrill Mountain States, which is based in Fort Collins.
Twin Peaks Mall is an important part of Longmont, said Brian Bagley, a Longmont city councilman.
"Our city needs the mall to be redeveloped," Bagley said. "We - as government officials - need to make sure they treat property owners fairly. Private parties are in negotiations attempting to resolve this. I am hoping they do, because eminent domain should not be entered into lightly."
Of the total value of the Dillard's property, the 94,500-square-foot building was assessed at $2.32 million and the land was assessed at $1.48 million for the 2008-2010 assessment period, said John Helton, chief deputy assessor in the Boulder County Assessor's Office. A new value is being calculated and will be available for Dillard's and all other properties in the county at the end of April, using a time frame of July 2010 to June 2012, Helton said.
Properties in the county are valued using market data from three comparable properties, Helton said. For example, the Macy's department store in the Twenty Ninth Street shopping area in Boulder might be considered a comparable property when assessing value, Helton said.
"I would say (the value) is probably not more. If (the value) is less, I'm not sure how much less it would be," Helton said. "It now is in the state of transition to being a redeveloped mall."
Coombs and city council members, meeting as the Longmont Urban Renewal Authority, met behind closed doors from 5:30 to almost 7 p.m. Tuesday to "discuss negotiation positions and strategies regarding redevelopment of the Twin Peaks Mall and the potential acquisition of property interests therein; and to receive legal advice, provide instructions to negotiators and consider confidential documents, re: same," according to a published city council agenda.
Little Rock, Arkansas-based Dillard's (NYSE: DDS), which owns the building it occupies at the mall in southwest Longmont, can prohibit new development on the mall site, based on an existing agreement between the retailer and mall owners that was signed decades ago, Ginsborg has said. Dillard's representatives have said the company wants to continue to operate at the site.
Separately, Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE: RGC) appears to have wrapped up negotiations with NewMark Merrill, Coombs said Tuesday. Knoxville, Tennessee-based Regal operates the existing 10-screen United Artists theaters at the mall.
NewMark Merrill bought the indoor mall for $8.5 million last year. Since then, Ginsborg has said he has spent "hundreds of thousands of dollars" on the project. Newmark Merrill has met the other two key points needed to receive $27.5 million in urban-renewal authority bonds.
One point was to sign an agreement with a 100,000-square-foot retailer, Ginsborg said. The other was to sign a letter of intent with a natural-foods grocery store. The new development is slated to be complete in fall 2014.
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