Owners of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway will help Manitou Springs establish 300 to 400 new parking spaces for visitors if the city signs a fifty-year tax incentive agreement that the railway’s owners says they need to rebuild and reopen the attraction.
The pact with Oklahoma Publishing Co., which owns the Cog and The Broadmoor hotel, will go before the City Council for a final vote Tuesday night in a meeting that starts at 6 p.m. at Manitou Springs City Hall.
If approved, the deal would give the ownership group two tax breaks. The ownership group would invest $75 to $95 million on a refurbishment project that includes new rail cars, reconstructing the track and remodeling, expanding or even demolishing the railway’s depot.
The agreement, which received preliminary approval from the Council on June 12, requires that the Cog to pay Manitou Springs $1 million from 2018 to 2019 to make up for the two-year tax revenue shortage expected since the railway shut down this year amid concerns about repairs to its track and other facilities.
A new amendment to that pact would guarantee that the Cog contributes at least $500,000 more to other improvements, such as increasing parking capacity and reducing traffic in downtown Manitou Springs and on Ruxton Avenue, Manitou Springs Mayor Ken Jaray said at a Monday night meeting that attracted about 75 people.
In turn, the city would waive its use tax for equipment and machinery related to the railway’s rebuilding and cap the Cog’s annual excise tax payments for 50 years. The limit would begin at $500,000 in the first three years of the agreement and increase incrementally – by a percentage or dollar amount, depending on the year – to $750,000 by 2062, the most recent draft of the proposal says.
The Cog Railway has paid between $350,000 and $500,000 annually in excise tax on ticket sales in recent years and generated about $100,000 more in sales tax from riders who shop or dine at city businesses, the city estimates.
In March, Broadmoor President and CEO Jack Damioli announced that the aging Cog Railway, more than a hundred years old, had “run its useful life.”
If the Council passes the agreement, work on the Cog could begin in August with a partial reopening in May 2020. Cog owners still have to work with European contractors to ensure that they can supply the materials for the project at projected costs, according to Gary Pierson, president and CEO of Oklahoma Publishing.
Oklahoma Publishing and The Broadmoor are owned by the Denver-based Anschutz Corp., whose Clarity Media Group owns The Gazette.
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