Hydroponic greenhouse gets $140K as incentive to build in Windsor

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Windsor's town board on Tuesday unanimously approved a $140,000 incentive package to help attract a $17 million commercial indoor hydroponic farming operation to the Great Western Industrial Park. 

Gotham Greens, founded in Brooklyn, New York, in 2009, wants to build a 120,000-square-foot greenhouse south of Vestas to grow leafy greens and culinary herbs for the Colorado market, co-founder and Chief Financial Officer Eric Haley told the board.

The greenhouse can grow nearly 5,000 tons of lettuce and herbs per year, according to a letter co-founder and CEO Viraj Puri wrote to the town board. This would be the company's ninth facility across the U.S., including a facility in Aurora.

Gotham Greens states on its website its regional greenhouses use 95% less water and 97% less land than conventional farms and reduce time in transit and the amount of miles traveled, which in turn reduce carbon emissions and air pollution. 

The board approved $100,000 in fee waivers and a 50% personal property tax rebate amounting to just over $40,000. 

Gotham said in its letter that without the financial assistance from the town, it would not be able to develop the project at Great Western Industrial Park due to financial hardships "and will alternatively develop the project elsewhere in Colorado." 

Neighboring towns in Weld and Larimer counties have provided fee reductions and offered incentive packages to Gotham Greens, the company said in its letter to the Windsor Town board. While not saying exactly what had been offered by whom, the company said there was a budget gap of about $1.2 million between Windsor and those other towns. 

"We are not seeking assistance for the entire budget gap but respectfully request your consideration of the highest possible package," the letter said.

Mayor Paul Rennemeyer asked if there were limits to what Gotham Greens could grow if the incentive package were approved, referring to marijuana. "Everyone's minds immediately goes to cannabis," he said. 

Haley assured the mayor the company's "entire mandate is to grow leafy greens, culinary herbs — 100% for food production. We have no intention of growing cannabis or anything else."

Haley said Gotham Greens is in the final stages of negotiating and finalizing site plans and intends to pull building permits as soon as possible. The company is also considering land in Longmont, Berthoud and possibly one other Northern Colorado community. 

Windsor Economic Development Director Stacy Miller said the project would generate about $680,000 in economic benefit for the town over 10 years.

This is the second incentive package the town has offered in the last several weeks.

In November, the town board unanimously approved a $1.5 million incentive package for Lineage Logistics, an international logistics and cold storage facility that also plans to build in the Great Western Industrial Park. 

That project could bring 100 new primary jobs to the area. The incentive package includes about $1.346 million in waived and reimbursed fees and $240,720 in personal property tax rebates. 

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