Union Station = public benefit
The City Council expects redevelopment to create good jobs and affordable housing.
The Denver Post
Christopher N. Osher
June 24, 2008
The Denver City Council on Monday warned that it wants any public subsidies extended to redevelop the historic Union Station to go toward creating good-paying jobs, affordable housing and other benefits pushed by labor-backed groups.
The council took the action as it set up a nonprofit to coordinate and oversee any proposed deal that may develop on the Union Station project.
Councilwoman Judy Montero had pushed for an amendment of "commitment from the city to pursue in every way financially feasible the achievement of additional community benefits from the project, including mobility and access to quality employment, health care, environmental sustainability, affordable housing and business opportunities on every scale."
Her push provoked a spirited discussion among council members Monday night, with Councilman Charlie Brown strongly opposed.
He said Montero's amendment was a "feel-good measure" that would end up complicating efforts to redevelop Union Station. The $476 million project would be the centerpiece of the $6.1 billion FasTracks, the nation's largest tax-funded transit expansion.
Brown warned that the economy was turning sour, and the city has little wiggle room as it strives to strike a deal with developers to spark redevelopment of Union Station.
But Montero and other council members said they want city officials to take seriously their desire to maximize any public subsidies extended to the project.
The Campaign for Responsible Development, a labor-backed organization, has argued that any Union Station redevelopment should include green construction, affordable housing and community-based jobs.
City officials are negotiating with lawyers representing the developers as they try to reach a way to finance the deal.
Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz warned that she doubts the city has sufficient money to finance any Union Station redevelopment.
On another issue, the council declined to slow down an effort by the city's forestry division to impose fines on those who neglect to care for trees in the public right of way.
Councilwoman Marcia Johnson had wanted the forestry division to hold public hearings and come before the council in October to seek the authority to impose the fines, which sparked concerns among advocates for the poor and elderly.
Christopher N. Osher: 303-954-1747 or firstname.lastname@example.org