GREELEY – The city of Greeley last month finalized the largest annexation of land it has undertaken since 2006 – another indicator that long-term health is returning to the development world, but it’s not the wide-open race it once was.

The 102-acre property annexation, slated for commercial and industrial use, was approved by the Greeley City Council in early April. It was part of a larger annexation petition originally filed in 2005 that ended up taking years to be approved.

It could take as long as a year before building can begin on the annexation, but the owner and developer of the property is used to exercising patience.

“Our next step is to get it subdivided and address the infrastructure to deliver finished lots,” said Tim McKenna, property manager for The Grainery. Obtaining city approval and then completing the physical work could take up to a year, he said.

The property is Greeley’s first large annexation since the end of the recession, according to Brad Mueller, director of community development services for the City of Greeley. The city’s last large annexation, of about 1,000 acres, took place in 2006, Mueller said.

The original 2005 petition was for the annexation of 685 acres of land north of the Weld County Administration buildings near the intersection of 11th Avenue and O Street, according to McKenna, who represents the land’s owner, Greeley Land Fund.

Issues relating to water, sewer and other infrastructure kept the annexation from moving forward for several years, McKenna said.

Neither the City of Greeley nor the North Weld County Water District would have been able to provide infrastructure and service to the area alone, so after spending last fall working on an agreement, the two parties decided in February to combine their efforts for getting water to the property.

The city also struggled with the size of the project and its location on the north side of the Cache la Poudre River, where installing infrastructure is more expensive.

To mitigate the city’s concern, the size of the annexation was reduced to 102 acres. Seventy-seven acres will be used for industrial purposes, and the remaining 25 are zoned for other commercial use, such as retail.

Ultimately, the annexation fit in with the city’s long-term growth plans, according to Mueller. The property will likely be developed in phases, but there is not yet a timeline for which phase will occur when.

Thousands of people who work in the nearby Weld County Administration buildings are far-removed from the nearest place to get a cup of coffee or some lunch during their workday, McKenna said. The JBS plant also is just down the road from the property.

Large industrial properties are in high demand in Weld County as a result of oil and gas development, especially along the U.S. Highway 85 corridor, which runs past The Grainery.

But before the property can be used for anything, it must be developed into separate lots, McKenna said. Then the developed lots will have to be sold to users.

There was no end user in mind when the annexation occurred, Mueller said, but the location of the property makes it attractive to many potential users.

McKenna said he has heard from many interested parties, as well as some who would be willing to acquire unfinished portions of the property and finish lots themselves.

Those buildings that are constructed on the land will likely be owner-occupied, because most banks are not yet ready to lend money for speculative projects.