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3D house printer receives Greeley council incentive agreement

GREELEY — A startup business that has developed technology to 3D print homes in concrete will receive incentives from the city of Greeley, and Greeley will get a piece of the action as part of the agreement.

The Greeley City Council approved by unanimous vote an incentive agreement that will bring Alquist LLC’s North American headquarters to the community. The council had previously approved the general terms of the agreement but wanted city staff to bring back the fleshed-out details. 

Alquist, of Muscatine, Iowa, has developed a robotic 3D printer that can build homes out of concrete. It has already produced some for Habitat for Humanity, and the interest of Greeley-Weld Habitat for Humanity was one of the factors that lured the business to Greeley.

Also a key factor was a pending deal with Aims Community College, which has shown an interest in developing a certificate program to train people to operate the equipment, said Zachary Mannheimer, CEO of the company.

“The Aims piece is a big reason why we wanted to move here. There isn’t a training program in America for this; Aims would provide that,” Mannheimer said.

The deal includes atypical elements for economic developments supported by cities.

Alquist will build a production facility on the west side of Greeley and an office downtown. It has identified a downtown location and is working with the landlord, Mannheimer said.

Greeley will offer a $750,000 forgivable loan over a five-year term at the prime rate. The loan can be forgiven if employment targets are met. Greeley will receive a collateral interest in the 3D printer robot and in the intellectual property.

The company will also be reimbursed for up to $100,000 in moving expenses.

Finally, the city will extend a $2 million construction grant and retain an interest in the property and the equipment to be installed within. The production facility is anticipated to cost $4.6 million and could double in size within five years.

Greeley will receive a five-year 3D printing license that the city may assign under terms it would determine to contractors and others within Weld County wanting to use the technology.

The City Council, when it met earlier in the evening in a study session, also heard details of a draft of the development plan for the Ironwood Business Park.

Ironwood is located east of First Avenue, south of East 16th Street and north of East 18th Street.

The council learned that All Recycling Inc. would agree to buy the remaining 16-acre site, build a $12 million, 20,000-square-foot waste transfer station there that would employ about 25 people, and build a speculative 50,000-square-foot flex industrial building that would cost about $7 million.

In return, the city would extend a 950-foot service road through the property at a cost of $1.3 million. The road would open the property for better use, and the lack of connectivity was said to be the reason the property has remained vacant for several years.

While a council vote was not required Tuesday night, council members did have comments, mainly related to another effort by All Recycling Inc., which may develop another sort of recycling center but not at the Ironwood site.

Instead, All Recycling may build a pyrolysis facility farther north and east near Andersen Sales and Salvage, 1490 E. Eighth St. Pyrolysis is a process that uses extremely high temperatures in the absence of oxygen to reduce substances to basic elements.

Household plastic wastes would be collected at the transfer station in Ironwood and moved to the pyrolysis facility.

Council members wanted assurance that the pyrolysis facility would not be in the Ironwood Business Park because of its proximity to downtown. They said odors from that process could be detrimental.

“I don’t want that pyrolysis plant downtown; that would be a mistake,” said council member Tommy Butler. 

Council member Deb DeBoutez concurred. “There’s no way on the pyrolysis plant in that location,” she said. She was also concerned about impacts of the transfer station on the housing neighborhood to the south, but recognized that the property is zoned to permit the transfer station activity.

City staff said the return on investment for the Ironwood project would be about $1.8 million over five years in property taxes and permit and impact fees.

Source: BizWest