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Possible land swap intended to spur economic growth

Ryan Hoffman
rhoffman@citizentelegram.com

A potential land swap involving city-owned lots at the Rifle Creek Plaza and lots in south Rifle’s Wapiti Park Subdivision could further economic growth in two areas of town primed for development.

City Council approved a non-binding letter of intent regarding initial discussion of the possible transaction with Oak Grove Ventures, LLC, which owns the lots in south Rifle, after an executive session Oct. 21.

The exchange is far from a guarantee and details are limited, but the city, in conjunction with the Rifle Regional Economic Development Corp. (RREDC), has a developer interested in a project on the Wapiti property that would attract additional development to the area, according to the letter. The project is only feasible with assistance from RREDC.



In return, the city would like to see the lots at Rifle Creek Plaza, the site of the Brenden Rifle 7 Theater, developed as soon as possible. Both the city and RREDC will continue to solicit possible development in the area, according to the letter.

If the exchange were to happen, Oak Grove would be owed $187,124 at closing, which the RREDC would pay on the city’s behalf.



Jim Neu, attorney for the city, said he could not comment on specifics surrounding matter, but he did clarify the city would not be on the hook for the amount owed in the event an exchange does happen. Neu stated that more details would likely be provided to Council in late November or December.

Similarly, Mel Kent, manager of the RREDC, said he could not comment on the matter because negotiations are ongoing. Kent did say that the RREDC is constantly working to spur economic growth in Rifle and elsewhere, and that often requires preparing the necessary infrastructure that would allow new businesses to move in.

It boils down to removing as many roadblocks for new businesses as possible, he said.

Among the terms being contemplated in the negotiations is an agreement allowing either party three years to repurchase undeveloped portions of the exchanged property at the same price.


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