New development plan for 9th & Colorado site of old University Hospital complex

DENVER - A new plan for the old University Hospital complex at 9th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard includes more housing and likely a King Soopers.

7NEWS confirmed with King Soopers spokeswoman Kelli McGannon that the grocery chain is finalizing negotiations to build a standard King Soopers to be the anchor of the 9th and Colorado development.

"We are continuing to work with them. We are in negotiations with this project. Our interest continues in this site. We are continuing to work with the city and its partners to create a redevelopment of this property that would serve this unique Denver neighborhood," said McGannon.

According to Denver City Council President Mary Beth Susman, the new plan calls for King Soopers, a senior living facility and a hotel, along with peripheral retail.

A plan surrounding an urban Walmart, other retail and a 400-person apartment complex was halted after Walmart backed out in October. Residents near the site rallied against the proposal and the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) that the developer was seeking.

TIF allows the developer to keep some of the tax generated in order to pay off the debt.

Fuqua Development has a contract with the University of Colorado to buy the site for $31.8 million.

"In terms of needing public financing, given the price for the property and the demolition mediation just to get it ready, I would think that they need to have increment financing, unless they have really deep products," said Denver City Council President Mary Beth Susman.

7NEWS asked Susman why the city of Denver should offer public financing for a sale between the University of Colorado and a private developer.

"Having a bunch of empty buildings is never good for your city. The city has an interest in activating that space. The city has an interest in creating jobs and revenue and economic development," said Susman. "It would be to our benefit to help a developer make that an active place if they couldn't do it on their own."

Susman was against the plan involving Walmart because she didn't feel it included enough housing to create added sales from the new retail.

"You have more pocketbooks to create more sales tax," said Susman.

Many residents who opposed the Walmart put up yard signs against Walmart and opposing public financing. 7NEWS asked Susman which issue was more contentious since the city may still approve public financing.

"I think it was more the Walmart issue than the finance issue."

Another complaint by residents opposed to Walmart dealt with traffic impacts a new retail center would create for Colorado Boulevard and surrounding neighborhoods.

"How does this solve the traffic problem?" asked 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger.

"It doesn't," said Susman.

Susman said the redevelopment would allow for new through street that currently dead end at the old University complex.

Even though the city does not own the old University Hospital complex, City Council would get to vote if the developer still wanted to ask for public financing.