The Gates Rubber Company redevelopment project in Denver was the subject of a CBA finalized in 2006. Located on a fifty-acre brownfield in downtown Denver, the developer, Cherokee, plans to demolish the abandoned rubber plant and clean up the site. In its place, an eight million square foot residential and retail center will be built. A coalition of community and labor groups was organized by the Front Range Economic Strategy Center (FRESC) to participate in the negotiations, which lasted for more than three years. Among the provisions of the agreement are benefits related to affordable housing, living wages for construction jobs, first-source hiring and continued communication between the developer and the community concerning the site’s clean-up. The developer also agreed not to allow any big-box stores to be included in the redevelopment. In exchange for these benefits, the developer was supported by the community in seeking $126 million in city subsidies.
During the negotiation process, it became clear that contaminants from the site had leached into neighboring areas. Because of this, members of the coalition formed the Voluntary Cleanup Advisory Board, and with the developer’s help, they tested neighborhoods adjacent to the factory for environmental contamination. The developer has agreed to make documents related to the site’s cleanup available to residents at a local library.
FRESC summarizes the CBA's provisions as including:
- An early agreement that excludes big-box grocery stores, which are typically low-road employers and bad neighbors.
- A landmark Affordable Housing Plan that includes 200 units of affordable rental units for Denver families with the greatest need, those at 50% and 30% of Area Median Income (50% = $35,825 and 30%=$21,495 for a family of four in 2005).
- Developer cooperation and participation with the neighborhood coalition Voluntary Cleanup Advisory Board that is monitoring the environmental cleanup and communicating cleanup issues to affected neighbors.
- An unprecedented agreement to pay prevailing wages and benefits for every construction worker engaged in the publicly-funded construction of site infrastructure and maintenance of public spaces and facilities.
- Selection of a union construction manager and general contractor with a strong record of good wages, health care & retirement benefits, and high quality skills and safety training.
- A commitment to use a “Best Value” selection process for subcontractors at all tiers that will maximize the chances of worker health care coverage and opportunities to train new apprentices.
- An unprecedented agreement to extend Denver’s Living Wage Ordinance to cover parking lot attendants and security personnel employed at the site’s public facilities.
- An enhanced “First Source” local hiring system that promotes the recruitment of local residents to fill new positions and, for the first time, prioritizes immediately adjacent low-income neighborhoods.
As of early 2008, construction had begun on one parcel at the site, which will have more affordable housing than originally planned. Demolition of the factory has been delayed due to issues related to the site's contamination, but may start late this year.
The text of Gates-Cherokee CBA is available here, and more information about the community benefits not included in the CBA is located here. Also, check out FRESC's website. Cherokee's website has more information about the project and what it has done to involve the community in the planning process.