LOUISVILLE — Redtail Ridge, a massive planned project that would transform the long-vacant Phillips 66 site in Louisville into a mixed-use commercial and residential development with a major corporate campus, failed to win the support of Louisville’s Planning Commission.
The board voted unanimously Thursday to move forward with a resolution that would recommend the Louisville City Council decline a comprehensive plan amendment necessary to start construction at Redtail Ridge. The comprehensive plan, developed in 2013, guides land-use decisions in Louisville.
Denver-based Brue Baukol Capital Partners, Redtail Ridge’s developer, put forth a comprehensive plan and general development plan amendment request that includes up to 5,886,000 gross square feet of building area and 2,236 multi-family residential units on the nearly 400-acre site that formerly housed the Storage Technology Corp. headquarters.
Should the project move forward, medical-device maker Medtronic Inc. is expected to be the development’s first major office user.
The company is planning a $133 million, 500,000-square-foot corporate campus on 90 to 100 acres. The new facility would create 500 to 1,000 new jobs in addition to the existing 500 employees already working in Louisville.
“For me, it’s too much,” planning commissioner Jeff Moline said during Thursday’s multi-hour hearing on the matter. “This is the time we can make a statement and say no to more.”
Concerns from commissioners centered around density, the region’s job-housing imbalance, stress on the existing tax base and increased traffic.
Despite these concerns, there was near universal support for certain elements of the plan, including the Medtronic campus.
Board members noted that the writers of the city’s comprehensive plan, which currently allows only for rural uses on the Redtail Ridge site, took into account thousands of public comments when crafting that document. Should there be a decision to make such a significant amendment to the plan, the community ought to have more opportunities for input, they said.
“I feel like the comprehensive plan [writers] picked a rural district [designation] for a reason,” commissioner Ben Diehl said.
Before the commission’s vote, Brue Baukol co-founder Geoff Baukol addressed some of the concerns raised Thursday by the board and by residents during a public hearing earlier this month.
“Our commitment from the beginning is getting this project right for the community,” he said.
How Brue Baukol will proceed is unclear. The developer could roll the dice and take the current proposal to the Louisville City Council for another set of hearings and ultimately a vote. Alternatively, the company could go back to the drawing board and bring forward a new proposal that could be more palatable to the Planning Commission.
Either way, the board’s lack of support is a blow to efforts to bring development to the vacant site that’s been inactive for more than a decade.
Sun Microsystems Inc. acquired StorageTek in 2005 for $4.1 billion, and the workers from that company eventually were moved to Sun’s Broomfield campus. Sun was later acquired by Oracle Corp. in 2010.
In 2008, Sun sold the property to ConocoPhillips for $55.6 million. The energy company announced plans to build a clean-energy research campus that would eventually create 7,000 jobs. But the subsequent spinoff of Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX) from ConocoPhillips brought an end to those plans, and the property was put on the market.
The land was one of the sites submitted by the state of Colorado as a potential location for the Amazon HQ2 project, with the land under contract to Bancroft Capital. That deal never materialized.
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