Rosy promises and glaring omissions |

Rosy promises and glaring omissions

My Side
Debbie Bruell
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Debbie Bruell

The developer of the Village at Crystal River is promising a very rosy future for Carbondale – more jobs, more shops, more consumers spending more money throughout the entire town of Carbondale. These projections sure sound enticing, but are they realistic?

Locals for Smarter Growth, a broad-based coalition of Carbondale area residents, thinks they are not.

Empty promises. Building commercial space is no guarantee that new stores, shoppers and sales dollars will magically appear. The only store to demonstrate serious interest in locating at VCR is City Market.

How many other national chains would choose to locate in a town of 6,100 people, in a region already saturated with retail – especially when they would be required to pay an additional 4 mills in property tax and to charge their shoppers an additional 1 percent PIF on all goods? Would a fast food restaurant and a gas station really provide the kind of jobs that people need in order to afford to live in Carbondale?

The seductive promises of VCR distract voters from the many negative aspects of this development.

Subsidizing development with a PIF. The developer is demanding a 1 percent public improvement fee (PIF) on groceries and other goods sold at VCR to cover a portion of his construction costs. The PIF would fund his construction bond plus interest – a total of about $5 million – for a roundabout and road changes in front of the mall.

No other commercial development in Carbondale or Willits has been subsidized with a PIF. The developer says VCR is not possible without the multi-million dollar subsidy that the PIF provides. If that is truly the case, then this development is inappropriate for our town.

Adding to our glut of real estate. VCR would add 164 homes and 125,000 square feet of commercial space at a time when Carbondale has about 60 commercial spaces for sale or lease and there is an estimated 18-year supply of unsold housing in the area. These new homes could flood our market just when real estate prices finally begin to recover.

Draining our business vitality. The developer promises huge increases in spending at VCR with very little impact on existing businesses. On what basis can he make these claims?

Dilapidated downtowns across the country demonstrate a more likely scenario of VCR draining business and vitality away from our downtown core. VCR is designed to attract chain and fast food restaurants and a gas station that compete directly with existing restaurants and gas stations.

The developer assures us that VCR won’t compete with current businesses as much as it would capture sales dollars that are leaking out of Carbondale – yet another unrealistic promise.

The spending figures he uses are for the entire 81623 ZIP code, which includes El Jebel. This developer is promising that a new City Market in Carbondale will convince people living near City Market and Whole Foods in El Jebel to drive an extra 10 minutes each way to shop.

Much of the money spent outside Carbondale is with large retailers in Glenwood Springs, online, or in specialty shops around the valley and state. VCR will not attract the kinds of businesses that will stem that spending.

The only way VCR can realistically garner an estimated $335,000 a year in sales tax revenue is by sucking that revenue out of our current local businesses.

Let’s build on Carbondale’s strengths. Our town is not in dire financial straits, as VCR proponents would have us believe. We have a very healthy reserve of $4.5 million and sufficient revenue to maintain our town’s services. However, in today’s economy we do need to be careful about how we allocate limited resources.

We are faced with a choice. We can invest in our unique downtown core and the sense of community it provides, or invest in a generic shopping mall at the edge of town.

Our strength as a community lies in our unique, eclectic character and our downtown core. Let’s not put those things on the gambling table, betting on a developer’s promise of more sales dollars. Let’s choose a future that will build on our strengths.

Please vote no on VCR.

Debbie Bruell has lived in Carbondale for more than 10 years with her husband Marc and their two daughters.

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