Adventure Lands: Moes’ project approved for financing as first major act by Craig Urban Renewal Authority board
The Yampa Valley Adventure Center is one enormous step closer to becoming a reality.
Frank and Kerry Moe’s plan to renovate the old Centennial Mall and turn it into a combination outdoors-themed retail space/interactive museum was approved for about $7.7 million in tax increment financing Wednesday by the Craig Urban Renewal Authority Board.
It was the first major action by the newly formed board, which has spent much of 2021 in various stages of development. The CURA board consists of all seven Craig city council members as well as a representative from each of the four additional taxing districts that agreed to participate in the urban renewal authority: The county, the fire district, the community college district and the school district.
With an 8-2 vote, the project was awarded a redevelopment and reimbursement agreement, which will allow the Moes to secure a private loan from a local bank using the financing agreement as collateral. Then, as milestones are reached by the project, the CURA will award portions of the $7,674,235 in tax increment financing to the project.
Tax increment financing does not raise taxes on anybody. Instead, it uses the increase in collected taxes that result from the redevelopment of a property to invest in the redevelopment itself. An urban renewal authority, like CURA, is an intergovernmental entity that collects and apportions from the primary taxing entities in the designated geographic area — in this case, the city, county, fire district, college district and school district — and directs that money into approved projects.
“CURA is not giving them any money up front,” said Shannon Scott, the city of Craig’s economic development director and the primary staff liaison to the CURA board. “There’s no bond being issued on behalf of the urban renewal authority. Frank takes out a loan for the upfront costs, and once he meets those milestones, he’ll begin receiving back a portion through the tax increment financing.”
For the Moes, this was a moment of relief and realization.
“I slept very well last night,” Frank Moe said by phone Thursday afternoon, the day after the board meeting. “But then I got up this morning and went, ‘Oh, wow.’ Glad we got over that hurdle, but what’s the next challenge?”
The next challenge is securing the loan, which Moe said a local lender has already indicated to him should be workable once the tax increment financing was approved. A project timeline requires that the project apply for the loan by Dec. 1 of this year.
“I’ve talked to the development director of a local bank,” Moe said. “He said, if this is approved, to send him a note or a call the next day. I did, and we’re looking forward to the possibility of working with him.”
The mall redevelopment is slated to include as many as 23 outdoor-focused retailers as well as an interactive Colorado Great Outdoors Experience/Museum and Hall of Fame, not to mention, per Moe, an archery range and other amenities.
Projections presented to the CURA board indicate that the taxing entities could anticipate $12,123,235 in increased collected property taxes over the next 20 years. The tax increment financing would represent 63% of that total.
The presentation to the board includes price points for purchasing the mall — $2.5 million — for renovations — $2.462 million hard costs, $712,235 soft costs — and for general operating losses — $1 million. It also includes a total project cost for the Colorado Great Outdoors Experience/Museum and Hall of Fame of $5.1 million.
A feasibility study by Better Cities supported the project’s viability was presented by the analyst Wednesday.
“Now I’m contacting people locally, regionally and nationally, outdoor retail organizations, to induce them to lease space,” Moe said.
Moe said he expects to close on the purchase of the mall by May of next year, then hopes to start construction in June or July. The timeline requires construction be completed by July 2024, but that benchmark is not necessarily the intended timeline for the actual project, which could be completed sooner.
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For several years, Academy Mortgage Corporation has been working within Moffat County by way of its Meeker office.