A flood of public support swayed the Columbia City Council in favor of a tax incentive to help build a second tower for The Broadway Columbia hotel Monday night. The vote was received with a round of cheers from the half-full council chambers.
In a 5-2 vote, the council approved a plan to give out $2 million in tax increment financing almost seven months after the council first agreed to hear the request. Mayor Brian Treece and Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas were the two votes against.
Tax increment financing, known as TIF, takes additional tax revenue from a development and funnels it back to the developer. The Broadway Columbia hotel owner David Parmley applied for TIF in April to help build an additional, $20-million tower to the hotel. Parmley has said he can’t build the tower without TIF.
The city still needs to approve a development agreement, and Parmley said he will still need additional funding before he can build the tower.
Several employees at Parmley’s hotels spoke in favor of the TIF. They all described Parmley as a good man who cares about his employees and the community.
Anthony Sims is the chief engineer at Hampton Inn and Suites on Stadium Boulevard, which Parmley owns. He said he started as an entry-level maintenance worker.
“Mr. Parmley offered me a job as a maintenance technician, and I took it, mostly to get my mom off my back,” Sims said. “Mr. Parmley is very willing to help anyone who comes to him for help. I was one of those guys, so, of course, I’m with (the TIF proposal). I hope you guys are with it, too.”
The council’s decision goes against the recommendation of the Tax Increment Financing Commission, which advises the council on TIF applications. The commission rejected the proposal in an 8-3 vote in October, finding the application did not meet the legal requirements for TIF.
First Ward Councilman Clyde Ruffin said he couldn’t project what would happen 23 years from now, when the TIF would expire, but he voted for it because it will make an immediate difference that he will be able to see. He said he felt the application met the legal requirements of TIF, and saw job creation as an overwhelming reason to approve it.
“When I hear the compelling testimony of employees and the opportunities for, not only creating jobs, but employing local people,” Ruffin said, “And not only providing employment, but the opportunity to work in an environment where somebody cares about your whole life, and is willing to provide good jobs, with benefits, that impact not only the employee, but the entire family, I feel that the opportunities outweigh all the risk.”
This was Parmley’s second time applying for TIF. The city approved up to $3.2 million in tax increment financing in 2011 to help him replace the old Regency Hotel with The Broadway Columbia.
The city has reviewed five TIF applications since 2008, when it set guidelines for handing out TIFS. City Council has now approved four:
- Up to $2.1 million for The Broadway Columbia’s second tower on Monday.
- Up to $3.2 million for The Broadway Columbia in 2011.Up to $1.8 million for renovation of the Tiger Hotel in 2008.
- Up to $3.3 million to the Brookside apartment developers for a high-rise building with five floors of student apartments, also in 2008.
Developers canceled the apartment project in 2009, leaving the city with two TIF districts. An annual report from the city showed both the Tiger Hotel and Broadway Columbia projects are not generating as much revenue as expected.
Parmley said construction on the second tower is expected to begin in spring 2018 and be completed by fall 2019.