City Council approves The Tiger Hotel plan

Tuesday, October 6, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The Columbia City Council gave final, unanimous approval to The Tiger Hotel's project Monday, voting in favor of an agreement that will govern the tax increment finance arrangement between the city and the hotel's owners.

The hotel's redevelopment plan required council approval because it will use tax increment financing to pay a portion of the construction costs. Tax increment financing allows developers to funnel growth in tax revenue back into the project.

Under the arrangement, the city will reimburse $1.785 million of the $8.925 million project. That money will come from new tax dollars generated by the improvements.

Craig Van Matre, an attorney for The Tiger Hotel owners John Ott, Dave Baugher and Al Germond, said more than two years of negotiations went into the agreement, including frequent meetings between the owners and the city.

"It wasn't an overnight deal," he said.

The plan met early resistance from other business owners who thought the arrangement favored one business over another. The Columbia Public Schools also opposed the arrangement.

There was little discussion at Monday's meeting, but Van Matre and members of the council sought to assure the public that the city wasn't assuming any financial risk because reimbursements can only come from a fund generated by increased tax revenue.

"The gamble is that we're both guessing right, that this is going to be a successful project," Van Matre told the council. "But if they're wrong, the developer's wrong and you're wrong, the city's not out any money."

Now that the agreement has been approved, the owners of the property can move on to securing private financing for the project and developing final plans.

"It feels good to be complete with this stage," Ott said.

Plans call for the project to be completed by April 2011.

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