Editor’s note: The Lafayette City Council has yet to approve the agreement as of Tuesday morning. A previous version of this story reported that information incorrectly.
LAFAYETTE — City officials in Lafayette have struck a deal with the development group behind The Miller apartment complex in the City Center project to rename the building, months after locals began saying that the name promotes the racist history associated with some of that family’s members.
According to documents for its Tuesday meeting, city officials and a subsidiary of Boulder-based Rubicon Development LLC agreed to a deferment in paying building fees and associated interest until 2022 in exchange for renaming the housing complex at 235 South Boulder Road. The company was scheduled to start making quarterly payments on up to $3.5 million in deferred fees this month with a 5% interest rate.
Lafayette’s city council is scheduled to vote on the agreement Tuesday night.
The documents suggest that the pandemic and its economic toll are one reason the development is getting additional time to make its initial payments.
However, a petition started last August by a group of local residents to rename the development caught steam and as of Monday has 742 signatures. It seeks to change the name of the development, named after the city’s founder Mary Miller.
The council’s documents don’t mention the petition.
Mary Miller founded the city of Lafayette in 1888, naming it after her late husband soon after they arrived in the Boulder Valley as homesteaders. She owned the rights to an expansive coal vein in the area and became wealthy from the royalties paid by mining companies on the land.
Those proceeds were later used to found the Lafayette Bank & Trust, making her the first woman in America to be the president of a bank, and the Lafayette-Louisville Milling & Grain Co. shortly after the turn of the century.
However, two of her grandsons were known members of the Klan. Frank and Fay Miller were both acknowledged as members of the white supremacist group in historical records and were affiliated with the volunteer firefighter force in the area that conspired to keep Latino residents out of the city’s swimming pool in 1933 and 1934.
No historical evidence has shown that Mary Miller herself was involved in the Klan.
Messages to Lafayette Mayor Jamie Harkins, mayor pro tem Stephanie Walton and council members Tim Barnes and Tonya Briggs seeking comment were not returned Monday. BizWest was unable to reach Rubicon by email, and a respondent who answered a call to the company’s listed phone number Monday afternoon said the number was not associated with the developer.
Petition co-author Doug Conarroe told BizWest that the deal promotes the views of the citizens in a situation where the city couldn’t change the building’s name by executive fiat.
He said that while Mary Miller’s legacy in the city is undeniable, she showed no signs of wanting buildings and streets named after herself, and continuing to have the family’s name in the public sphere is a reminder of Frank and Fay Miller.
“Her grandsons sullied the Miller name, they sullied her name and the Miller name,” he said. “And anything moving forward, there are other people to name streets after, for God’s sakes.”
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