Archive for Thursday, April 5, 2007

Council to consider requests on center

Creation of redevelopment district would keep developer’s timeline intact

April 5, 2007

Officials hope a hearing tonight will continue the process toward development of Towne Center.

Lansing City Council will conduct a public hearing on creation of a redevelopment district during their meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 800 First Terrace. Later in the meeting, council members will be asked to approve an ordinance creating the district.

Creation of the redevelopment district is among the requirements needed to arrange tax increment financing (TIF) for the project, a key component sought by the project's development group.

"They've done a lot of homework," Mayor Kenneth Bernard said of the group proposing the development, which would take in the area on the west side of Main Street from 4-H Road north all the way to Kay Street. "I think the redevelopment district will be approved."

Bernard noted creation of the redevelopment district was just one in a series of actions developers want the city to undertake prior to their self-imposed June 30 deadline.

"The big thing, of course, is we've still got to get down to the final TIF numbers," he said.

A TIF looks at how much tax revenue a particular area is generating today, and then looks at how much tax revenue it generates once the project is complete. The additional tax dollars generated by the project are captured and set aside to pay for public infrastructure related to the project, such as at-grade parking, streets or groundwork produced by the city to facilitate the project.

"When they submit the final TIF plan, they'll say to the city, 'This is what we want from you,'" Bernard said.

City Administrator Mike Smith said the development group had signed agreements with 20 of 24 property owners to purchase homes from West Mary Street to Kay Street to make way for the project, which would be anchored by a Lowe's home improvement store and, possibly, a Hy-Vee grocery store.

Smith said two more property owners had come to an agreement with developers, but papers had not yet been signed. Developers remain in talks with the final two holdout property owners, he said.

Bernard said if the holdouts continue, the council may be asked to step in to consider condemning the properties.

"The key (for developers) is getting the land," Bernard said. "We need to get it done before 30 June, because that's when the rules change."

A new Kansas law goes into effect on July 1 that requires any condemnation proceeding to win approval from the Legislature. Developers want to avoid taking that approach.

Smith said he was hopeful the sides could come to an agreement.

"They're being very generous with their offers," he noted.

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