Rocky Mountain Public Media ran into a serious obstacle in its effort to raise money to build its new headquarters building Thursday when the Colorado Economic Development Commission took the rare step of rejecting its request to offer enterprise-zone tax credits to people who donate to the planned $30 million fund-raising campaign.
The parent company of Rocky Mountain PBS had hoped to offer credits of 25 percent of a person’s donation as a carrot to people considering support for the Buell Public Media Center, planned for the corner of 21st and Arapahoe streets in Denver. Such tax credits are standard fare for non-profit and government-entity projects seeking private funding in any of the 19 enterprise zones across the state that are meant to spur economic activity in areas of low income or lagging growth.
However, largely because of the number of higher-priced residential units going into the Ballpark neighborhood, the location of the proposed building was removed from an enterprise zone at the start of 2016 when boundaries for all zones were reconsidered. It’s not unusual for non-profit projects near enterprise zones to receive tax-break status still if they can show they will aid the economic activity in nearby zones, but developers must get overt permission from the Colorado Economic Development Commission.
In the case of the Buell center, however, commissioners expressed significant doubt that the building, which also is slated to house other non-profit broadcasting organizations, would boost nearby areas of economic stagnation much. Commissioner Denise Brown led the charge on the issue, saying that previous projects claiming that they would offer boosts to poor areas, such as the Fitzsimons Innovation Campus in Aurora, had failed to do so, and that Rocky Mountain Public Media’s claim that 100 percent of the activity would impact the zone was unbelievable.