A developer has formed a transportation development district that will charge extra sales tax to pay for road projects surrounding a large commercial development at Range Line Street and Smiley Lane.
The developer, Kevin Kearns, launched the Northwoods Transportation Development District to pay for construction of new roads and improvement of existing roads to accommodate anticipated traffic into the development.
“(The new TDD) will improve infrastructure faster,” Kearns said.
TDDs are governed by state statute and are designed to facilitate public road projects to meet the needs of new commercial developments. TDDs are allowed to collect an extra sales tax of up to one cent for every dollar gained in retail sales within their boundaries, but most charge only half that amount.
The Northwoods TDD is the seventh to be formed in Columbia, and more are in the works.
Kearns said he plans to eventually have lots for 13 retail stores in his development. Because there are no stores yet, he has loaned the TDD about $1.1 million to complete the road projects faster.
Kearns plans to seek bids on the road projects today, and construction could start by the end of next week, said Craig Van Matre, an attorney for the TDD.
Kearns said the TDD will later reimburse him for the $1.1 million.
“It’s risky, but the city will benefit from this project,” Kearns said, adding that the new public roads will help divert traffic in the fast-developing area.
The road work will include an extension of American Parkway that will connect Range Line Street to Smiley Lane, plus construction of Saddlebrook Place. It will also include improvements to existing roads in the area.
Kearns said he is still drafting plans for his shopping center and will reveal details of the project in about two weeks.
Assistant City Manager Bill Watkins said city officials have approved Kearns’ plans for the roads but have yet to discuss Kearns’ request that the city collect the sales tax.
“They will talk about it soon,” he said.
Van Matre said the TDD wants the city to collect the tax because it will make the TDD more accountable. If the city doesn’t agree, the TDD would be authorized to collect the tax on its own.