The Shrine of St. Anne is located at the southeast corner of the northwest block. The area to its east, appearing under construction in this years-old photo, is a small parking lot. The large building in the southeast block is the parish elementary school, and some of the the land in this quadrant is that which is in dispute. The new library is being built upon the white building in the southeastern corner of the southwestern block.
This is the relevant portion of the city council resolution numbering the lots up for seizure. Taken from City Council Agenda for June 26, 2006. The resolution's full title is "07.B.04. CB06-022, An Ordinance Authorizing the Acquisition of Property in the Vicinity of 57th Ave and Webser[sic] Street for Arvada Public Library Parking Improvements"
This is the county assessor's real estate divisions of the southeast block from the first photo. The lots up for seizure run from west to east, 1-6. Note how the loss of such property would cut off any potential expansion for the school, which already uses the northern half of the block. (County Assessor Maps in PDF)
This is a map scanned from page 59 of the Olde Town Renaissance report, written in 1999. It substantiates the report immediately below that the city or its consultants have in the past entertained the idea of building residences on the parish's property. The larger block of text on St. Anne's current property describes the highlighted part of the block as "New Development(Housing along street front, parking deck behind)." The smaller text immediately to the left of the school reads "Easement for through pedestrian traffic." Though the Supreme Court's Kelo decision is unlikely to apply here, its shadow certainly lurks in the minds of those suspicious of the City Council.
For a sense of the cramped proportions of Olde Town Arvada, see the Google map to get a feel for the land.
In one news article cited above, the parish's lawyer Bob Frie refers to city land just across the street. One article states "The city land near the church is planned as a site for future housing, city officials have said." Here is the planned site for future housing, just south of the parish property and just southeast of the new library:
As I understand it, the blue and orange lots are the city properties marked for housing developments. This graphic comes from Arvada Urban Renwal Authority's Webster Center Request for Proposal, available in PDF. This request announces:
Arvada Urban Renewal Authority (AURA) is seeking a developer for a key location in Historic Olde Town Arvada and a property with future light rail potential.
AURA is issuing a Request for Proposal for .44 acres, strategically located on the southeast corner of Webster and 57th Avenue in the heart of Olde Town Arvada. This site is located across the street from the new Jefferson County public library, currently under construction. The Olde Town library is scheduled to open in the fall of 2006 and anticipates having 40,000 visitors per month. Furthermore, it is ½ block from a proposed light rail station.
AURA envisions a two or three story residential or mixed use building. Outlined below is a brief summary of the City of Arvada, Olde Town and the Webster Center site.
I mentioned the shadow of the Kelo v. New London decision above. Though I believe Colorado law already restricts eminent domain use, here we see how easily eminent domain restrictions can be avoided: even if useful government-owned property is available, the government can still take away somebody else's land if it has a "public use" fig-leaf serving as an excuse. Worse yet, the government can wait until its property is sold off or irreversibly committed to other purposes, at which point its demands for condemnation under eminent domain appear more reasonable.
Here is a map for the Webster Center Request for Proposal, curiously omitting any depiction of the school on the property right across the street from it:
Considering the demographics the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority is attempting to attract, one wonders what role the school will play in a future "renewed" neighborhood. From the Webster Center RFP:
Water Tower Village:
Adjacent to Olde Town is a 26-acre parcel that is currently being developed into a high-end residential urban village. The Water Tower Village will house approximately 1,700 people within a mix of rowhouses, cottages, lofts and apartments ? all within easy walking distance of Olde Town. The first residents moved into the community at the beginning of 2005.
Average Household Income: $80,000
Average Age: 32