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ARCHIVED  November 19, 1999

Oxbow plan gets Group backing

FORT COLLINS — Group Real Estate Inc. chairman Larry Kendall will lead an effort to raise private funds to build an amphitheater on the north bank of the Poudre River, provided the path is clear to develop the property.

Kendall said he will await the outcome of talks between the city and Blair Kieffer, owner of the downtown riverfront parcel known as the Oxbow, and the resolution of the process deciding floodplain regulations before getting involved in the fund-raising work.

“Provided the city reaches an agreement, and the path is cleared for it to be built, I would be happy to work toward that end,” Kendall said. “My vision is of something like the amphitheater at Vail. äIt has to be close enough to Old Town that people have ready access to it.”

Vail’s Gerry Ford Amphitheater, and the adjacent Betty Ford Gardens, serve as models for the city’s plan for a 2,500-seat amphitheater on the Oxbow, a controversial, 17-acre land parcel that lies on the Poudre’s north bank just northeast of Old Town.

Planners familiar with the project say construction costs would be approximately $2 million.

Conservation group members have said they want the Oxbow restored to its natural state and withheld from development. But city officials and property owner Kieffer are nearing a purchase agreement that would call for the building of an amphitheater on the site.

Landscape architect Bruce Hendee, who drafted the city’s plan for the property amphitheater, said environmentalists would find attractions in the plan.

“Most importantly, from the standpoint of the natural resources people, is that we would have more riparian habitat than exists today,” Hendee said. “We would be reclaiming the river for wildlife habitat. We intend to make that a better place for wildlife.”

The oxbow was formed decades ago when a local rancher rechannelled the river, straightening its course and taking out a bend that looped northward from downtown Fort Collins. The river is now pinched between steep banks — in many places strewn with chunks of concrete — where it flows by the Oxbow parcel.

Hendee’s plan calls for the river to be widened, and the north bank graded to restore wetland wildlife habitat. The Poudre River Trail, now perched on the steep north bank, would be moved about 100 yards further northward.

The amphitheater would be situated 300 feet from the river, with the stage facing southwest.

City officials said the plan is a representation of what might be possible on the property, and should not be taken as a clear vision of what might result.

“We want everyone to know that this is one person’s idea of what this might look like,´ said Mike Powers, director of cultural resources for the city. “We have a long way to go before we have a definitive plan.”

Hendee said that any final plan would emerge only after a process that draws community members together for discussion of options.

“At the point that the design work occurs — and there’s no guarantee that I’ll be a part of that — there will be ample opportunity for everyone to be involved in the process,” Hendee said. “I see this, from the community standpoint, as being a wonderful and vital asset, but there are some challenges ahead.”

Powers said talks with Kieffer, owner of Kieffer Concrete Inc., were progressing, and that he was optimistic an agreement on purchase of the Oxbow property would result.

City Manager John Fischbach has said the purchase price for the property would be between $1 million and $2 million.

FORT COLLINS — Group Real Estate Inc. chairman Larry Kendall will lead an effort to raise private funds to build an amphitheater on the north bank of the Poudre River, provided the path is clear to develop the property.

Kendall said he will await the outcome of talks between the city and Blair Kieffer, owner of the downtown riverfront parcel known as the Oxbow, and the resolution of the process deciding floodplain regulations before getting involved in the fund-raising work.

“Provided the city reaches an agreement, and the path is cleared for it to be built, I would be happy to work…

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