Today's Question: Are Tiger Hotel redevelopment restrictions going too far?

Thursday, October 8, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 8:49 a.m. CDT, Thursday, October 8, 2009

On Monday night the City Council approved the agreement outlining the terms of the tax increment finance, or TIF, arrangement between the Tiger Hotel’s owners and the city. Sometime over the next 23 years, the city will reimburse the owners for $1.785 million of the near $9 million they plan to spend redeveloping the 1920s-era structure on Eighth Street into a boutique “destination” hotel.

However, the city attached qualifiers onto the redevelopment plan. Before the Tiger project could receive TIF funding, property owners John Ott, Al Germond and Dave Baugher had to agree to financing specifics, aspects of the redevelopment and provisions that extend into the hotel’s first few years in business. Requirements include maintenance of the roof’s “Tiger” sign, inclusion of the words “Tiger Hotel” in the business’s name and the hiring of a management company with experience running a boutique hotel.

The Tiger Hotel project meets the city’s criteria for TIF status that projects “demonstrate a substantial and significant public benefit.” The hotel’s application for funds said the project will help the city by creating jobs and increasing property and sales tax revenue. At the Tax Increment Financing Commission’s June 9 meeting, attorney Mark Grimm, the city’s special council for the project, said the city has no financial responsibility for the hotel restoration. "One hundred percent of the financial responsibility is going to be borne by the project," he said.

Achieving tax increment finance district status has been a long road for the structure previously used as a senior living center. The TIF application process for the project was completed this spring but encountered resistance from some business owners and Columbia Public Schools. And at its June 5 meeting, the Tax Increment Financing Commission received citizen feedback that generally reflected support for the projects themselves, but they should be paid for by the private sector.

Is the city’s involvement in the redevelopment enough to warrant the level of micromanagement the restrictions show?

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Allan Sharrock October 8, 2009 | 9:21 a.m.

If you want government money and free hand outs then you abide by their rules, however dumb. If you don't like it then front the money yourself.

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