Centerra South to include grocer, additional retail, an office employer, housing on day 1
LOVELAND — If Centerra South, McWhinney Real Estate Services Inc.’s latest proposed development in Loveland, is permitted to move ahead with an urban renewal authority and a new master finance agreement in place, opening day will include 140,000 square feet of retail, an office building large enough for about 210 employees and 350 units of multifamily housing.
Chad McWhinney, CEO and co-founder, told BizWest Tuesday that the company will announce Wednesday more-detailed plans for the development. Those plans include a commitment to Whole Foods — the grocer already announced for the development — that, simultaneous with its opening:
- The first phase of the development will include 100,000 additional square feet of retail (Whole Foods is 40,000 square feet).
- The multifamily housing.
- An employer already identified — but not yet announced publicly — that will occupy a 70,000-square-foot office building.
All of this will be built around the development’s “Central Green — the heart of the site,” said Karen McShea, McWhinney’s senior vice president of commercial and mixed-use developments.
A fourth element that will be part of the early development will be a hospitality segment that likely will include a hotel, restaurants and entertainment.
McWhinney said the additional retail, office and housing come with a “high degree of confidence.” No leases are signed, but interest from companies wanting to locate in Centerra South has been high, and two letters of intent are in the works.
“Just like it used to be that if you could land Nordstrom’s, additional retail would quickly follow, now it’s Whole Foods. There are a number of retailers who seek to locate along with Whole Foods,” McWhinney said.
“Retailing is changing. It’s now ‘desire, not require’ and ‘go to, not through,’” he said.
McWhinney said the employer has been identified and is a company from Northern Colorado but not in Larimer County. It wants to be an anchor of this development, he said.
All that depends upon a public/private financial arrangement that includes the new URA, master finance agreement and metropolitan districts to help pay for the infrastructure necessary to complete the development.
“It would cost an investor $30 million to put one shovel in the ground,” McWhinney said. Without the combined effort of public/private finance, the land would not develop to this level and would likely end up as housing, industrial or perhaps car dealerships, he said.
Early on in the discussion at the Loveland City Council, it appeared that an arrangement similar to what existed in the previous Centerra agreements would prevail. In those agreements, all of the incremental increases in property taxes, for example, would be used for infrastructure construction.
McWhinney and Abby Kirkbride, general manager of Centerra, said Tuesday that negotiations with the Thompson School District, city of Loveland and Larimer County are taking a different shape. Under changes to state law, creation of new urban renewal authorities now require agreement from all taxing entities, with the school district and Larimer County being the largest.
Kirkbride said it appears from negotiations so far that the county and school district likely will share in some of the incremental increase in property taxes that results from increased values of property in the development. “They’re likely to keep some of the (tax) mils,” Kirkbride said.
McWhinney said he would be introducing an equity partner that will join his development company to bring the project online. The partner is CenterCal Properties LLC, a development company from El Segundo, California, which has completed multiple mixed-use properties around the country. Its specialty is retail, McWhinney said. He said McWhinney may partner with CenterCal on other projects in Colorado as well.
McShea said that revised site plans will be shared Wednesday, and those plans will continue to change in response to community input. The current plan shows a “pedestrian friendly” main street, walkable neighborhoods, a “linear park” that connects with the Loveland Sports Park and amenities that keep people engaged.
“Since COVID, people want to be outdoors and walking around,” McShea said.
The likely tenants of the office building want its building to include a first floor that opens onto the central green that permits people to enter and use space on the lower level, McWhinney said.
Retailers will be of a different sort — “retailers that don’t exist in the market now,” McShea said. She cited women’s sports apparel, food and beverage companies including chef-driven restaurateurs.
The development will likely include “civic partnerships,” she said. Among those would be a museum “unlike any other in Northern Colorado.” While she wouldn’t specifically identify the museum, the Northern Colorado Children’s Museum does have plans to build in east Loveland.
The developers also will restructure the existing red barn on the site into a performing-arts structure. While still in the idea stage, plans now call for a 7,500-square-foot performance center on that part of the site.
McWhinney was confident about hotel development on the site but uncertain about which hospitality company would be tapped to build it. McWhinney is a partner in Sage Investment Holdings LLC, previously known as Sage Hospitality Holdings.
If initial approvals are attained, then the development will break ground late this year and see the first openings in the first quarter of 2026.
McWhinney will host a community meeting Wednesday, 5-7 p.m., at the Mountain Cowboy/The Hub in the Kinston development in Centerra. Space is limited; the company has asked people to RSVP here.