Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include additional information about TIF (Tax Increment Financing) districts and adds additional information about the Liberty Center Association for the Arts’ request.
The Sedalia TIF Commission unanimously passed a recommendation regarding the Sedalia Midtown TIF during a meeting and public hearing Wednesday afternoon in Council Chambers at the Municipal Building.
According to the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, a TIF, known as Tax Increment Financing, “is a financing and development tool that allows future real property taxes and other taxes generated by new development to pay for costs of construction of public infrastructure and other improvements. TIF encourages development of blighted, substandard and economically underutilized areas that would not be developed without public assistance.”
The Sedalia Midtown TIF Project is a 163-acre district that encompasses downtown Sedalia. The financing of the district will provide funds to revitalize and redevelop the downtown area.
Now that the Commission has decided on a recommendation, it will be sent to the Sedalia City Council to be voted on during an upcoming meeting, tentatively scheduled for May 2.
This marks the second amendment to the original Midtown TIF project approved in November 2008. The TIF was originally formed to help fund a community center, but once the Parks and Recreation Department moved the location out of the TIF district, it was back to the drawing board. The Commission then chose to include the McLaughlin Building in the project, but once State Fair Community College decided to not sell the building to the City of Sedalia, it was back to the drawing board, again.
“What’s before the TIF Commission is to approve a proposed amendment verifying the TIF Commission believes this amendment meets the requirements of the redevelopment plan,” Community Development Director John Simmons said at the beginning of the hearing. “That redevelopment plan, overall, is the conservation of the downtown TIF area. If you’ll recall, when we adopted that project it was one project, and that was redevelopment of downtown.
“This amendment would reallocate funds previously identified for the McLaughlin Building and community center, and what council will take from you at this point, they will determine based on your recommendation the funding mechanisms, how they will allocate the funds to the projects and what will trigger the execution of the plan. … We’re not asking you to approve a TIF, we’re asking you to reallocate line items in the fund.”
The Midtown TIF was created once it was determined to be a conservation area due to a number of reasons, including that 91 percent of structures are 35 years old or older, lack of community planning, deterioration, depreciation and obsolescence.
The original proposed plan had two projects, known as “line items,” and a total cost of $26,640,000. The second amendment included five line items: streetscape, community center, Trust Building renovations, McLaughlin Building renovations and demolition of the Broadway Arms building.
On Wednesday, the Commission approved recommending a third amendment: streetscape, Trust Building renovations, demolition of the Broadway Arms building, Uptown Theater renovations and Liberty Center renovations. A business incentive program and professional fees are included in the amendment. The new total project cost is $10,303,00.
The Midtown TIF project must be completed by 2031, when funds will be released to the taxing jurisdictions. Simmons said the line items requesting funding are expected to be completed in the “foreseeable near future.”
Several citizens representing the Liberty Center Association for the Arts spoke in favor of including the Liberty Center in the amendment. No comments were made regarding the Uptown Theater.
“This beautiful, historic facility is worth preserving,” said Joe Fischer, representing LCAA. “… We did an addition to the facility that addressed all the ADA requirements … That is complete.
“We do however have the upstairs, which is in phase two, for offices, which has nothing done to it yet. There are structural issues. The roof is estimated at $125,000 … We have a structural issue upstairs, somebody in their wisdom put a big concrete vault on the third floor, and we have a wall that is leaning out. For that we’d like to see about $60,000 for restructuring.”
Other improvements include adding a parking lot with a driveway and landscaping to the south of LCAA, adding a fly system in the theater, renovating the green room, installing new auditorium carpet and installing a marquee “as it was in back in its hay-day … to distinguish the theater as a theater,” Fischer added.
James Trelow, of LCAA, noted that surveys of patrons indicate those patrons tend to visit downtown businesses, such as Fitters and Ivory Grille, before and after events at Liberty Center. He said LCAA plans to have 150 events per year, which could mean a “substantial amount of money spent downtown.”
In the recommended amendment, $600,000 has been allocated to the Uptown and $703,600 has been allocated to the Liberty Center. (A previous version of this article stated $1.6 million had been allocated to LCAA; LCAA Director Terri Ballard said that number is the total project cost, not the amount being requested from the Midtown TIF.)
Commission member Allan Rohrbach asked Simmons if city staff is sure the proposed line items can be completed for the estimated amounts. Simmons said yes, the numbers are “about right.”
“The numbers are realistic for project costs, however, the TIF authorizes them up to that amount. If they come in under that amount, they don’t get that extra difference. We hope to bring everything in under budget,” Simmons said.
Simmons was also asked if the projections are based on costs now or five years from now.
“The projections are for now because we’re suggesting with these projects that they all occur now,” he replied. “Get them done, move on. Let’s be done with presenting projects to the TIF, let’s get these built and see what it does to revitalize downtown.”
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.