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Joint Powers Board Wants to Sell Land, Waits for Conference Center Decision

Tom Morton, Townsquare Media

Despite the hype, 2013 was not quite the boom year for certain kinds of real estate, said the chairman of the group charged with the development of the former Amoco refinery and tank farm properties.

The Amoco Reuse Agreement Joint Powers Board. manages the 250-acre Salt Creek Heights Business Park west of the county jail. The business park has lots of land great for warehouses and businesses with light industrial operations, but no one was biting, Bryce Row said Thursday.

“There was not a tremendous amount of activity at the Salt Creek Heights area in the last fiscal year,” Row said. “There was not one lot sale during that time.”

Wednesday, the joint powers board gave its annual report to the Casper City Council and the Natrona County Commission. The council and the commission appoint the board’s members

The lack of activity at the business park, which has sold land for businesses such as American Tire Distributors, seemed contrary to the apparent bustling central Wyoming economy, Row said.

The 340-acre Platte River Commons, located on the former refinery site just south of the North Platte River, experienced slow growth, too, but not for economic reasons, he said.

“Is there going to be a conference center or not,” Row said of the project’s herky-jerky funding negotiations. “We’re going to wait to see where that comes in.”

The board also recently formed a task force to look at the financially flailing operations of the Three Crowns Golf Course, he said. “They are just beginning that initiative.”

Three Crowns has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars each year since it opened in 2005, and the ARAJPB owes it to the city and the county to do something about that, Row said. “We subsidize the golf course, solely. It’s our responsibility to fund operations.”

Besides Three Crowns,  the Platte River Commons is the home for the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission building, the Casper Area Innovation Center, the Platte River Business Plaza, and a medical office building under construction.

The board was created in 1998 when Amoco — now BP — signed a lease agreement with the city of Casper and Natrona County to oversee the development of the property.  BP pledged more than $25 million toward the goal of replacing the number of jobs lost when the refinery shut down in 1991. The ARAJPB receives no money from Casper or Natrona County.

The ARAJPB still has about $11 million in cash, which must last for the remaining 90 years of the lease, Row said.

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