Breaking: Proposal to Purchase Town 153 min read
Pursuant to the Colorado Open Records Act, I submitted a formal request to the town for a copy of Jack Chang’s proposal to purchase the Town 15 (corner of Coalton and McCaslin) and build the “Bright Gen Innovation Campus”, which was submitted to Board of Trustees last Thursday. Today, I was granted an electronic version of the proposal – click here to read.
Mr. Chang has offered $1.6 million for the purchase ($2.47 per square foot), and intends to build two buildings on the land. The first (Building A) would be a 70,000 square foot charter school, and the second (Building B) would be another 70,000 square foot building to house an assessment center (for dyslexia / special learning needs), professional development center (to train / certify special education teachers), a classroom-sized dyslexic school, social entrepreneurship and incubator space, and the Superior Community Center and library.
In the proposal, Mr. Chang agrees to fund construction of Building B, which he estimates will cost $12 million. (Mr. Chang subtracts the $1.6 million offer from this total to show a net cost to him of $10.4 million.) However, in exchange, he wants the town to sign a minimum lease of 20 years for the 40,000 square feet of Building B that would be dedicated to the Town. Mr. Chang’s proposed lease price is $25/square foot, or $1 million per year. A 20 year lease would represent $20 million (and presumably significant profit for Mr. Chang, nearly doubling his initial investment). However, the purchase contract does not include any details about annual operating costs and who would foot the bill for those, so it’s unclear what the total annual cost to the Town would be for these facilities. It should be noted that Mr. Chang does add a clause indicating that the agreement will be a flexible space agreement, allowing the town to lease anywhere from 20,000-40,000 square feet per year, depending on actual usage.
I unfortunately don’t have the time right now to write up a full analysis of this proposal and its pros / cons. However, my initial reaction is that this purchase offer is severely lacking in details and raises many more questions than it answers. While it’s clear that Mr. Chang is trying to be flexible and offer the Board whatever amenities for Building B would most suit the Town, the result is so general in terms (and yet concrete on price) that I believe it would be irresponsible for the Board to move forward with any kind of decision. As we saw from the recent failed proposal for a partnership with Rough Riders to build a community center at Town Center, our town is not at all clear on what amenities are necessary vs nice-to-have, and there is a lot more work to be done before we can come to any kind of agreement on whether / how to invest in this expensive amenity.
Layered on top of all of these questions is the fact that the town is not in agreement about what should be done with the Town 15 parcel. Resident Dan Walkes recently developed and published a survey to better understand resident preferences for this parcel; you can read more about that here, and I would highly encourage you to contact Mr. Walkes and take the survey if you have not already done so.
I apologize for not being able to provide more thorough analysis of Mr. Chang’s proposal this week. I am away from my computer until Sunday, volunteering at Experience Camps, a nonprofit organization that hosts free sleepaway camps for children who have recently lost a parent or sibling. If you are interested in learning more about this amazing organization, visit www.experience.camp.