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DENVER-The city and county of Denver plans to use certificates of participation, or COPS, to fund the $16-million purchase of the Rocky Mountain News building at 400 W. Colfax Ave. for a new criminal justice center that will include a jail and courtrooms. COPS involves selling a property and leasing it back.

The city uses COPS fairly frequently. For example, it sold and leased back a fire station to pay for a new structured parking garage at the Denver Zoo and has used COPS to fund improvements at Red Rocks Amphitheater and a parking garage for the Denver Art Museum.

But in the case of the new jail, it will actually sell the justice center and lease it back. This would be the first time the city would sell the same building it plans to finance.

Mayor Wellington Webb wants to acquire the News building, which is across the street from the Denver Police headquarters and a block form the city and county building, but let the next administration finance and construct the $115-million justice center.

Webb, who can’t run again because of term limits, leaves office in July.

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