Archive for Thursday, June 14, 2007

City paves way for Towne Center

June 14, 2007

First came a round of approvals. Then came a round of thanks to the key players involved in what is poised to become the major retail center of the city, the Lansing Towne Center Redevelopment District.

Lansing City Council members at their meeting Thursday, June 7, gave unanimous approval to a series of actions to get the $80.6 million project off the ground.

Jess Davis, lead developer with Lansing Towne Centre LLC, said several retail prospects were showing "quite a bit of interest," and - with the center's anchor store, Lowe's Home Improvement, under contract - progress should become evident in a matter of months.

Demolition on the 48.6-acre property will begin immediately, Davis said.

At Thursday's meeting, Mayor Kenneth Bernard reconvened from May 24 a public hearing on the Redevelopment Project Plan for Towne Center's "South Project Area" and "North Project Area." But the hearing drew no public comment.

When the hearing was gaveled closed, council members approved the redevelopment plan.

Despite the lack of participation in the public hearing, residents have been buzzing about the district, Council President Andi Pawlowski said.

"People always ask about it," she said. "Mostly they want to know, how soon?"

Pawlowski also said most of the people she's talked to were anxious to land a grocery store.

Davis has said previously that negotiations were under way with Hy-Vee.

Both Pawlowski and fellow council member Dee Hininger have experience in real estate and said though excited for the venture, they understand if a store is not under contract, there are no guarantees.

"They can walk out anytime," Hininger said.

The council then approved the developer's request for two special bonds to help finance the project, the tax increment financing (TIF) and transportation development district (TDD) bonds.

The TIF and TDD project tax revenue generated when the project is complete and how much tax revenue is currently generated in the area. New 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.

A preliminary feasibility study of the plan indicated the project, when developed, would produce revenues sufficient to cover about $14 million of the eligible TIF costs. Of that amount, the developer is requesting $7.85 million be financed by the property tax increment and about $6.5 million in TDD bond funding supported by a 1/2 percent local sales tax generated within the district.

The funds would be generated over a 20-year period, according to the agreement.

The development agreement commits the city to a "hard cap" of $19.115 million in funding to the project, paid through the TIF and TDD.

What Pawlowski hasn't heard from people she's talked to, are comments on the 1-cent sales tax the developers requested to be levied on purchases within the district.

"I haven't heard a word about it," she said.

Davis said once retailers are secured he would expect to sell the first bond in November, which bond he is not sure yet. The second bond is expected to be sold in March. The district is projected to be complete in spring 2008.

Also Thursday, the council:

¢ Reviewed meeting minutes from May 17 and special meeting minutes from May 24.

¢ Steve Jack, executive director of Leavenworth County Development Corp., presented a quarterly update.

¢ The mayor proclaimed June 11-15 as "2007 Business Appreciation Week."

¢ Laura Phillippi, site supervisor for the Lansing Historical Museum, updated the council on "Glimpses in Time: The Lansing Historical Museum Photograph Project."

¢ Ken Miller, project liaison, gave a monthly update on the Main Street Enhancement Project. He said work on the west side of Main Street from Ida to the Leavenworth Country Club would begin now that the east side is completed.

¢ Accepted a bid award for the 2007 CIP paving, curb replacement and sidewalk repair.

¢ Approved an ordinance declaring De Soto Road and 147th Street as main trafficways.

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