Archive for Thursday, March 1, 2007

Towne Center plans laid out

March 1, 2007

Lansing and area residents could pick up their groceries at a new Hy-Vee grocery store, then head over to grab home improvement items at the Towne Center development near Main and Mary streets, under a plan outlined last week to Lansing City Council members.

Chase Simmons, an attorney representing a group of developers, told council members about the plans during a work session at City Hall.

Simmons said Lowe's, a national home improvement chain, had signed a contract with the developers to locate in the center. Negotiations continue with the grocer.

Council members expressed delight with the plans.

"I understand what you're trying to do, and I think it's a great project if you can pull it off," Council member Kenneth Ketchum said.

At tonight's Lansing City Council meeting, the council will be asked to get the ball rolling on a series of actions to seal the deal.

First up will be consideration of a resolution to conduct a public hearing on establishing a redevelopment district that would extend from 4-H Road north to West Kay Street, from Main Street to the Charest property and Lansing Heights Apartments west of Towne Center, plus the West Mary reverse frontage road.

The resolution is the first step in arranging tax-increment financing for the development. A TIF, as it is called, 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.

The developers could borrow money, either privately or through a sale of municipal bonds, and receive the TIF funds over a designated period, up to 20 years.

"If we have a contract with a Lowe's and a grocery store," Simmons told council members, "we can sell the bonds."

Another key to the deal would be the purchase of 24 houses now in the area north of West Mary to Kay Street. Owners of most of those properties already have been contacted about selling to the developers, Simmons said.

He emphasized that all of the property owners in the area must agree for the project to go through.

The council meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall, 800 First Terrace.


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