The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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April 17, 2014

Public hearing set on posed TIF district

Financial details of a proposed new tax increment financing district for the Silver Creek Galleria area will be discussed in detail at an April 28 public hearing, members of the city’s TIF Commission were told Thursday.

Chris Williams, a TIF attorney representing the city of Joplin, told the panel the Thursday meeting was intended to walk commissioners through the public hearing steps.

Hope Valley Development Group Inc., which is represented by developer and real estate agent Kevin Steele of Joplin, has filed a request to establish a TIF district along with a community improvement district in the area of 44th Street and Range Line Road, south and west of the current Silver Creek Galleria shopping center.

Part of the purpose of the TIF district is to pay for the construction of wetlands as a way to control stormwater drainage and creeks to control flooding so that the remaining land can be sold for commercial development, which has been described as a costly project.

Williams told the TIF panel that the city has hired a financial analyst, Springsted Inc., to perform a financial analysis of the proposal that will be presented at the April 28 public hearing. Financial details about the development and the TIF proposal will be provided at that meeting.

Once the public hearing concludes, the TIF panel ultimately will be asked to decide whether to recommend that the City Council approve the project. In arriving at a decision, Williams said, the commission will make findings as to whether the area meets the requirement that it is blighted as a result of the topography and water drainage issues, one requirement toward establishing a TIF district. The panel also will be asked to determine whether the proposal meets other state requirements set out in TIF law.

The panel will be asked to designate a developer to oversee the establishment of the wetlands. The city of Joplin has been asked to take that on, but the panel was told a nonprofit organization also is being approached for that role.

As for the public hearing, “If you still need more information on April 28, you can continue the public hearing to a new date,” Williams told the panel.

When all the testimony and fact finding is finished, the panel will vote on the resolutions that will go into its overall decision on whether to recommend approval.

The City Council also will be looking at details of the redevelopment plan when it is called on to make the final decision.

Darrell Gross, the developer’s consultant on the proposal, told the panel, “This is pretty expensive for the net yield of the project,” because of the cost of building the wetlands. He said that is the reason the land has not been filled out with commercial development before now, even though it sits in a highly visible location on the city’s main commercial corridor, Range Line, next to Interstate 44.

He said the project is broken into four areas.

The first area or Phase 1 of the project is the land at the corner of 44th Street and Range Line south of the Microtel Inn hotel and the Social Security Administration building. That is the area that would be developed first.

The U.S. Corps of Engineers, in issuing the wetlands permit for the project, requires all of the wetlands be built at one time rather than only those in Phase 1. The entire project area is 134 acres that runs west to encompass of the current Head Start campus, though developing more than the first phase may not happen for years or at all, Gross said. The land includes a tract owned by David Powell at the corner of 44th Street and Connecticut Avenue that is for sale, though there is no redevelopment of Powell’s land detailed in the proposal.

Whether the property in Phase 2, which is south and west of the Furniture Row store and Galleria shopping center, is developed will depend on whether the 11 tracts over 28 acres in the first phase fully develop, Gross said. He said the property in the first phase is being marketed to national retailers.

Phase 3 is where the AT&T Call Center is located and it likely would not be redeveloped as long as the center is operating there.

Gross said the financials are tight, but he believes the TIF district and CID would generate enough money to pay back the expense of the development within the 23 years allotted by state law. It might pay back in 16 years if the developer obtains certain grants and other funding that could come through, Gross said.

A TIF district is one in which the development costs are repaid by a portion of any new sales and property taxes generated by the stores and commercial operations within the district. The CID would impose an additional 1-cent sales tax beyond what is already assessed within the district. That tax money is paid to the developer to recoup costs.

There is no residential property within the TIF plan so that it would not affect the Joplin School District, Gross said.

Superintendent C.J. Huff, a member of the TIF Commission, said representatives of the school district have been meeting with the developer about the proposal for several months to look at whether it would affect the district’s revenue. It likely will not unless loft apartments were built amid the commercial construction sometime in the future. That is not planned, though Gross said that in future phases a land buyer could choose to build lofts.

Huff said, “In general we are supportive of the TIF,” unless there would be residential development. If not, “the impact on us is minimal if any at all.”

He described the proposal as a “great opportunity for economic development,” which warrants the school district’s cooperation because “if they did nothing at all, that property would set there vacant and it would do no one any good.”

Street project

The city would be asked to widen 44th Street if the TIF proposal is approved because of the volume of traffic it would be expected to generate.

 

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