Moes make purchase of mall official, move forward with proposed adventure center

Dan England / For Craig Press
Moffat County Commissioner Frank Moe delivers his opening address during Monday's election forum at Moffat County High School.
Andy Bockelman

Frank Moe signed the contract to purchase the mall Thursday and hopes to turn it into his proposed Yampa Valley Adventure Center in 18 months. 

Colorado requires a three-day waiting period, so the purchase won’t be official until Monday, and Moe honestly can’t begin the project until May, when he believes the City of Craig will establish its first urban renewal authority. An authority generally gives incentives to a developer to build, renovate or revitalize an area of town that needs it. The mall is a big reason why Craig is interested in such a plan, said Peter Brixius, Craig’s city manager, back in early fall. 

Moe and his wife, Kerry, hope the adventure center could eventually feature an indoor gun and archery range, pro shop, indoor climbing center, mini bowling area, Top Golf swing suite, pool hall and trampoline park, with a visitors center featuring dinosaur attractions; a restaurant and ice cream, candy and chocolate factory.

Frank Moe admitted that he didn’t think the negotiations would take this long, as the former county commissioner announced the project in September. He didn’t want to say how much he paid for it, but it was listed for $2.6 million, and Moe said he didn’t pay that much for it. It’s also a complex project because Moe also hopes to use the tax increment financing that may be available in districts established by the city. That means all the entities that benefit from property taxes, such as the fire department, the library and the county, will have to agree to the proposal. A board of individuals representing those taxing entities would run the authority. Tax increment financing is essentially a deferral on the property tax increase that comes when developers improve an area and helps fill empty buildings. 

“Using the space adds vitality to a business district,” Brixius said. “That’s what you’re looking for. You want to draw people back into those areas. You don’t want it to look like a failing area.”

The mall isn’t empty. There are businesses using it, and those businesses will be allowed to stay until their lease runs out, Moe said, and maybe beyond. 

Moe doesn’t know if he’ll be able to do his project all at once or in stages. He’s looking for investors to help determine that. 

The Moe’s project already got a boost when the state selected it from a pool of more than 130 so-called “opportunity zones” in Colorado, a zone where the state gives capital gains tax breaks for those who invest in the boundaries. The state’s capital accelerator program helps connect properties such as the mall with investors and business owners.

“They are just going to that extra effort to ensure these projects come to fruition,” he said. “It’s quite an honor.”

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