Carbondale refuses to budget on Crystal River Marketplace deal |

Carbondale refuses to budget on Crystal River Marketplace deal

Carbondale and the Crystal River Marketplace developer are still $900,000 apart in a deal that would lead to a 250,000-square-foot shopping center on Highway 133, and neither side is budging.

And the project won’t appear on the town’s Nov. 5 ballot.

That’s the upshot from a Carbondale Board of Trustees special meeting Wednesday night. Mayor Michael Hassig is not optimistic the $900,000 chasm will be bridged, but wouldn’t speculate on whether the developer will withdraw his application.

“We’ve told the developer, `Here’s the deal,’ and the developer doesn’t like that deal,” Hassig said on Thursday.

Spokespersons for developer Brian Huster were not available for comment on Thursday. Huster has declined to talk to the press.

During the meeting, Huster withdrew his request to have his project put on the ballot for a public vote. The ballot wording couldn’t be drafted in time to comply with state statues.

“We finally agreed it wasn’t feasible. The election timing was too onerous,” Hassig said.

The trustees scheduled another Crystal River Marketplace public hearing for Tuesday, Sept. 10.

Wednesday night’s discussion focused on the percentage the developer should pay for $9 million in Highway 133 upgrades that will be required due to the town’s growth, and impacts the shopping center will have on the two-lane road.

Carbondale has said the developer’s fair share is $3.5 million. The developer is holding firm on his standing offer of $2.6 million. The trustees voted 6-1 Wednesday night to state that $2.6 million was not sufficient to cover the costs of Highway 133 upgrades.

“It’s clear the developer has not achieved a good enough financial plan for the town to buy into on the (highway) project,” Hassig said.

Hassig said the $2.6 million would have come from $600,000 in up front fees, plus $2 million in what amounts to a special sales tax that would be collected only at Crystal River Marketplace. A percent of an existing town sales tax that would be collected at Crystal River Marketplace would also be diverted toward the $9 million highway upgrade project.

Wednesday night’s meeting, and the seeming impasse toward a final Marketplace approval or denial, is the latest in a review process that has taken numerous twists and turns during the past two years.

In June, Huster withdrew his application after the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended 39 conditions, including one giving the town veto power over the shopping center’s anchor tenants. Less than a month later, the trustees asked Huster to resubmit his application, which he did.

After Wednesday’s meeting, the project’s future is uncertain.

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