DENVER—Voters in Denver and Adams County will decide this November whether to approve a deal that would allow business development on unused land owned by Denver International Airport.
After a years-long feud between the two local governments, representatives of both joined together Wednesday to promote the proposal, which will appear on ballots in both jurisdictions as question 1A.
The private businesses on airport land today can only exist because they are directly related to air travel.
Under the 1988 agreement to allow Denver to annex the land for DIA, Adams County voters were promised Denver would build an airport and wouldn't use the land for anything else until the year 2063.
"Today in 2015, airports are much different," Hancock said Wednesday. "We've got to create a different playing field for DIA to compete globally."
Hancock doesn't want to wait 48 more years to do that.
DIA has vacant land. It's connected to Denver by freeway and a train line that's already being tested for opening.
Hancock launched an "airport city" campaign in 2012, which riled Adams County.
Commissioners went so far as to demand the land back, so they could tax the new businesses on DIA's land.
Commissioner Erik Hansen signed that letter in 2013.
But on Wednesday, he stood side by side with Hancock, saying he's glad "cooler heads prevailed."
"We realized we needed to collaborate to come out with a deal that was good for everybody," Hansen said.
What it took to get to this point was, of course, money.
If voters approve 1A in both jurisdictions, Adams County would get a $10 million payment up front and a 50-50 split of the tax revenue from new DIA businesses—forever.
"Which I believe is minimum compared to the awesome opportunity we'll have by opening up this airport for business," Hancock said in defense of the deal.
It might also mean cheaper airline tickets or more flights, says airport CEO Kim Day.
DIA would charge the new businesses rent on the land.
"If we have another source of making money to improve our facility then we don't have to charge the airlines for that," Day said.
It'd be up to the airlines to decide what to do with any potential cost savings.
Supporters admit they don't yet have businesses ready to open up at D-I-A if voters approve they change.
Instead they argue: if we build it, jobs will come.
(© 2015 KUSA)