COLUMBIA — The "Tiger" sign that defines Columbia's downtown skyline will continue to glow for quite a while if terms of a redevelopment agreement between the city of Columbia and owners of the historic Tiger Hotel are approved by the City Council on Monday.
Because the renovation of The Tiger Hotel will use public money in the form of tax increment financing, the owners must agree to terms set by the city. The proposed redevelopment agreement includes provisions that govern specifics of the financing, elements of the renovation and its first few years of operation.
Among other things, the agreement would require the owners to keep the "Tiger" rooftop sign in good condition as long as the agreement is in effect. It also lays out the framework for tax increment financing and a construction schedule for the project.
"It was pretty much what we had expected from all of the public hearings and discussions from the TIF Commission level on," said Eric Creach, an attorney representing Tiger owners John Ott, Al Germond and Dave Baugher.
The agreement would create a tax increment financing district at The Tiger Hotel property, and any increase in property tax revenue that results from planned improvements would be funneled back into the project. Over a period of no more than 23 years, the city would reimburse the owners of The Tiger Hotel $1.785 million of the $8.925 million project.
The City Council in July approved the use of tax increment financing for the hotel project despite opposition from Columbia Public Schools, which could have benefited from increased tax revenue generated by improvements, and some Columbia residents. Supporters said the project would be a catalyst for more growth downtown.
The agreement stipulates that the hotel must continue to operate under a name that includes the words "Tiger Hotel." It also requires the owners to hire a management company experienced in running a "boutique hotel."
The plan is to renovate the interior of The Tiger Hotel so it can reopen as a boutique hotel, defined in the agreement as a hotel generally rated 3 out of 5 stars by hotel rating organizations. Examples include the Bell Tower Inn in Ann Arbor, Mich.; the Dahlmann Campus Inn in Madison, Wis.; and Hotel Indigo, a nationwide chain.
The agreement also sets a general construction schedule requiring the developers to secure private financing by June 30, then start construction within 90 days. Construction would be finished within 18 months.
The owners of the hotel and their attorneys will attend the council meeting to give a short presentation on their plans and to answer questions from the council, Creach said.
The council meets Monday at 7 p.m.