Boulder East County Mayor Forum Longmont

Longmont’s mayor Roger Lange is a former tel com executive who’s been on the job for just under a year. He’s a 25 year Longmont resident who started from the gate talking about the environment.

I wonder if the proximity to Boulder and the continued influx of people and influence from the city of Boulder’s green thinking had anything to do with that?

You might be glad to know that Longmont has a green points program to guide the city towards its own built-green code. Lange said that the city is currently influencing both new construction and remodeling projects with its green points program, and for now, the code is only for residential real estate.

He also said there’s a state partnership with the city that started this year, and he reminded us that there’s also a ballot issue addressing whether the county can also help with money for solar installations.

While there weren’t more specifics, he also said that there are some renewable energy incentives for his community, and all municipal buildings are going through an energy audit.

While all that green emphasis is good to know, you may also be wondering about how the housing market is doing. Lange said that new construction is significantly down in the area. Where they commonly have seen around 1300 building permits issued in Longmont, it’s down to about 300 for this year. This is good news if you already own a home in Longmont.

McStain’s project in south west Longmont is on hold, and the brakes have been put on the Puma project north of Hwy 66 (the Ute Highway for you nostalgia buffs).

The major source of income for the city has been the use tax from home building, so you might not be surprised that Longmont is experiencing some financial pain on this, and according to Lange, the city is making budget adjustments.

You may want to know about these other statistics:

The average rental rate for a single family home is still hovering at about $1100/month (Lange didn’t give details on the size or area of the sample average home)

The Butterball / Con Agra turkey plant at the northwest corner of 2nd and Main will scale down its operation through the end of the year which means a loss of about 600 blue collar jobs.

The commercial vacancy rate is down versus third quarter numbers in 2007. 16.6% vs. 20% last year.

Longmont is intended to be the north terminus for the planned FasTracks commuter line, and Lange is hopeful but concerned about the cost over-runs. He said that he believes it is critical that FasTracks is completed.

One of the other areas of concern for Longmont seems to be the old-fashioned, and aging Twin Peaks mall. You may already know that this mall is a typical mid 20th century style indoor mall which has fallen out of favor with most shoppers.

Lange admits that sales tax revenue is down around 50% from the mall. He added that there are no firm plans on what to do with the mall, in terms of renovating or redevelopment, and concluded that it is a top priority to city planners, second only to the downtown / main street district. I hope Longmont doesn’t take as long as Boulder did to figure out a solution to its mall problems.

When asked about incentives Longmont may be offering to attract new business and jobs, Lange said that the city has no history of using retail or commercial businesses, and doesn’t plan to start. He did add that there is a new data center oriented business coming to town, and that one thing that may have attracted this business is that Platte River Power, the entity that Longmont buys it electricity from, has very low rates when compared to other area communities. His parting thought was that data centers use a very high amount of electricity, and therefore this might be an incentive for them, and other similar businesses to locate to Longmont.

If you have more questions about real estate, or are thinking about taking action yourself in the local real estate market, you owe it to yourself to get straight answers. Email me or call me now so I can learn what concerns you most.

-Zachary Epps, full-time professional Realtor and EcoBroker

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