DALLAS — Redevelopment of Denver’s Union Station gains momentum this week with the closing on a $146 million loan from the federal government.
The rated deal is considered a private placement of senior-lien notes maturing in 2040. The U.S. Department of Transportation will hold the notes under provisions of the Transportation and Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.
The Denver Union Station Project Authority, a multi-agency nonprofit corporation, is the issuer of the debt. DUSA includes the Regional Transportation District of Colorado that developed the project with the Denver Regional Council of Governments and the DOT.
Additional funding for the $483 million redevelopment will come from a $155 million federal loan under the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Act, $103 million in state and federal grants, and $79 million in cash.
The collaboration of local and federal governments in redeveloping the historic rail station in lower downtown Denver is a key element of the RTD’s $6.9 billion FasTracks rail and bus project. FasTracks will add 122 miles of rail to the existing RTD system.
Under the FasTracks blueprint, Union Station will serve as the hub for light-rail lines from the suburbs and a commuter rail line to Denver International Airport.
The notes carry a long-term rating of A from Fitch Ratings and have not been rated by Standard & Poor’s or Moody’s Investors Service.
“The notes are rated below Fitch’s rating on RTD’s certificates of participation (rated AA-minus) because they are not secured by a hard asset, do not have a fully funded debt-service reserve fund at the time of issuance, and the DSRF, once funded, can be used to meet any deficiencies in the payment of a subordinate lien note placed with the federal Department of Transportation under its Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Act,” wrote Fitch analyst Jose Acosta.
The notes are secured by a senior lien on pledged revenue, which consists of a $12 million annual payment from RTD and property, sales, and hotel tax revenue generated by development in an area adjacent to the station.
RTD’s FasTracks bonds are secured by a first lien on the district’s 0.4% sales tax that was approved by voters in November 2004.
To complete the FasTracks project by 2017 as scheduled, RTD will need to double the sales tax due to cost overruns of $2.2 billion. The district board decided earlier this year to postpone a vote until next year.
The Union Station project will include an underground bus terminal with 22 bays, a light rail station for current and future light-rail lines, a commuter rail station that will also serve Amtrak, public plazas, and spaces to combine transit services, private development, and the 16th Street pedestrian mall.
The master developer of the 19.5-acre project is Union Station Neighborhood Corp., a joint venture between Continuum Partners and East West Partners. Kiewit Construction was awarded one design-build contract for the entire project.