Today's Question: Does the Tenth and Locust development project qualify for tax-increment financing?

Friday, March 20, 2009 | 4:58 p.m. CDT; updated 4:33 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Tax Increment Financing Commission is reviewing two applications requesting a total of $5.1 million in tax breaks from the city.

Tax-increment financing freezes property taxes on undeveloped property and then invests the money that would have gone to paying property taxes back into the project. In order to qualify for the tax break, development projects must meet three standards:

  • Development projects must be in an area in need of conservation or an area deemed blighted.
  • Projects must create a substantial public benefit.
  • They must not be possible but for help from the city.

On Thursday, a flier was passed around the League of Women Voters City Council and School Board candidate forum implying that both the projects with pending applications with the city might not meet the standards.

Nathan and John Odle of Trittenbach Development are proposing a $17.1-million building that will include eight stories of retail, office and residential space for the northeast corner of Tenth and Locust streets.

They say the project meets the blighted area requirement, citing "unsanitary and unsafe conditions" for the three apartment houses that are on the property now.

Their application also states the project will need at least 100 people on site each day during construction and eventually will create at least 25 permanent jobs, which is a substantial public benefit, according to the application.

The Odle brothers also anticipate their project to be a catalyst for other high-quality development downtown.

To satisfy the "but-for test," Trittenbach spokesman Brad Wright said the Odles could never have considered such an undertaking until the city passed the tax-increment financing ordinance.

The flier passed around the forum Thursday night, however, implied that Trittenbach didn't meet this standard, calling the Odles "multi-millionaire development owners."

Does the Tenth and Locust development project meet the three requirements to qualify for tax-increment financing?

(On Monday, we'll look at The Tiger Hotel's TIF application and ask the same question.)

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