COLUMBIA — Downtown redevelopment projects might best be achieved by establishing a tax-increment financing district, members of the Columbia Downtown Leadership Council believe.
The proposal came after a charrette in the summer of 2010 to plan downtown redevelopment.
The CoMo You Know, a community encyclopedia for Columbia and Boone County, includes this entry on tax-increment financing.
The proposed district would allow property owners to negotiate with the city for a greater percentage of their property taxes to return to them, which would then be used to fund the owners' development projects. The city could then allocate an undefined percentage toward funding other public projects in the district.
The council hopes the proposed financing district will address two “priority areas,” one focused on the intersection of Broadway and Providence roads, and the other in the North Village Arts District.
The council's overall goals are to promote more development around the intersection to distinguish the area from downtown and attract homebuyers and hotels to the North Village Arts District.
Improvements suggested in the report for the North Village Arts District include beautifying College Avenue, making pedestrian trails and pathways, adjusting the street grid north of Walnut Street and east of College Avenue, creating a public park and building additional student and residential housing.
The report also suggests beautifying Providence Road, expanding the architectural style of the downtown area to First Street, developing more residential and mixed-use areas and making Flat Branch Park a destination.
There are currently two single-use tax-increment financing projects in Columbia: The Tiger Hotel and the Regency Hotel. Assistant City Manager Tony St. Romaine said those districts are set up to reimburse only the developers of the projects.
“There isn’t any major public infrastructure benefit,” St. Romaine said.
Randy Gray, chairman of the council, said it is in the early stages of planning the creation of a tax-increment financing district.
“The boundaries of any TIF district or districts have yet to be determined," Gray said. "That will involve more community input and participation.”
There are several additional steps needed before a tax-increment financing district can be implemented downtown. A redevelopment plan would need to be designed and approved by the City Council. There would also be a public hearing.
“There will be plenty of opportunities for public discussion,” St. Romaine said.
The charrette report can be found on the City of Columbia’s website, gocolumbiamo.com.