Uplands Development & City Documents
What is the proposed Uplands subdivision?
A proposal for 2350 housing units and businesses and zoned as mix-used development (TMUD). It is located on the 235-acre working agricultural land next to the iconic Westminster Castle. This would range from 5-story apartment buildings to small-lot single units, housing about 7000 people.
Calling themselves Uplands, they propose building a massive subdivision on top of the historic Westminster farm. While the “Big Red Castle”, which is on the National Registry of Historic Places, will remain standing along with the private Belleview Christian School, the farm will be replaced by a hillside of houses and apartments and is being referred to as “new urbanism”, and claiming to be “sustainable living”.
Uplands Preliminary Development Plans and Documents
Oread Capital submitted the Uplands Preliminary Development Plan (PDP) to the City on February 24, 2020, the day after the City Council approved increased zoning density on two of the farm parcels. Final approval, by a 5-2 City Council vote, took place on January 10, 2022. To view the now-approved Uplands Development Plan go to the Westminster City eTrakit.
Here you can review the real plans for high-densities and small lots that are proposed by Oread Capital/Uplands. Since the track record of Oread Capital is to sell off their properties and projects in less than three years their interests are always short-term.
Within the filed documents is a proposed Metro Special District (Tax District) that Oread Capital wants to get approved at this stage. The expectation is the MSD application will be submitted in spring 2022. This will have to come before the Westminster City Council for a public hearing and approval.
The farm sold to international hedge fund Varde Partners
The title for the Westminster farm is now held by a hedge fund, Varde Partners. Based in Minneapolis, with offices in London, New York, and Singapore, this fund has $14 billion in assets and describes itself as a firm that "seeks opportunities in less efficient markets and pursues assets at a discount to their intrinsic or potential value fund". Oread Capital and Peak Development will be "managing" the hedge fund's investment.
Who is Oread Capital and Peak Development?
Over the eleven years of being in business, Oread Capital has been on five development projects, all of which had previously been started by another developer and were resold. Oread was the Colorado representative for Connecticut-based Wheelock Street Capital on three of these projects. All five Oread projects were flipped to other builders within three-years or less.
The most recent public record of Oread projects is from 2015, on The Canyons in Castle Pines, where Oread bought and immediately sold the property to Shea Homes. Oread flipped The Canyons property to Shea Homes, and according to CORA documents, left themselves as the 5-member board of The Canyons Metro Tax District 6.
For the Uplands development project, Oread Capital has hired one of the big Denver real estate lobby firms, the Pachner Group. They have put together fancy advertising, a website, and publicity videos to sell their plan, but you only have to scratch the surface to find the real public record of Oread Capital.
Peak Development, which is led by Chad Ellington, also has a record of not abiding by "promises" and prioritizing development based on the return on investment. In 2020 he acquired the net-zero carbon-neutral community of GEOS, located in Arvada, CO. Ellington immediately abandoned the vision of the community, he promptly brought in natural gas lines and hired the Fortune 500 builder with no experience in carbon-neutral building, Dream Finders.
To learn more about the GEOS community go to the CNN report on the GEOS community
Proposed Metro Tax District by Oread Capital and Peak Development
Metro Tax Districts are taxing authorities created by subdivision developers, with the consent of the local government, for the sole purpose of selling government-like bonds to finance their projects. Repayment of the bonds is tied to future property taxes assessed to the homes that will eventually be built. The metro taxes are paid to the developers and their debts.
Metro Tax Districts give developers a risk-free opportunity by allowing them to not have to pay for infrastructure themselves and to develop with other people’s money. They have very little “skin in the game.”
The developers often vote on the future homeowners’ behalf to issue bonds that they themselves invest in, thereby earning interest on the bonds they voted to issue. These tax districts work mostly in the dark and are able to set arbitrary debt levels to pay for infrastructure costs that historically have been included in the cost of housing or were funded by the local government.
Uplands Development proposal includes a "Metro Special District", and Oread Capital has already approached the city with a proposal to nearly double the Westminster allowed mill-levy for these tax districts.
Oread Capital is not new to Metro Tax Districts—Oread owner Jeff Handlin and his partners are the current Metro Tax District board of "The Canyons" District 6 in Castle Pines, CO.
Chad Ellington alone sits on eight different Metro Tax District boards across the Front Range.
To learn more about the workings of these Tax Districts and Developers, read the series from the Denver Post.
Recording from March 10, 2022 Public Forum on Metro Special Districts