It’s been a year since the Sedalia City Council approved the city’s first commercial TIF district, and city officials say progress is being made on the project, even if citizens can’t see it yet.
According to the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, “Tax Increment Financing (TIF) 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 TIF district in Sedalia includes two parcels of “blighted” land, both on U.S. Highway 50: land in front of the Econo Lodge and behind the Galaxy Theater, a total of about 5.1 acres. Council approved the district with a 6-2 vote during its Nov. 23, 2015, meeting, a decision that was controversial because of so many opposed citizens and the TIF Commission’s 9-2 vote against the proposal in October 2015.
Star Development Corp., of Liberty, proposed the TIF district and is responsible for securing commercial tenants and overseeing the work. When discussions began last year, Star said the estimated completion date was December 2016, which clearly has not been met. However, City Administrator Gary Edwards said progress is being made on the project, just a little slower than the city would like.
“There’s progress on both of them. It is not aggressive progress at this point, however, in the case of the project out by Galaxy, plans have been submitted to us, to the city,” Edwards said Wednesday. “There are three buildings associated with that project. They are also working with MoDOT — MoDOT been in contact with us as far as working on infrastructure out there as well. That’s moving forward — not as fast as we’d like, but it’s moving forward.”
Steven Hansen, project engineer for Star, said citizens can expect see work on the two sites within the next few months, possibly even before the end of the year, weather permitting.
“The Econo Lodge project, we’ve had engineering completed on that on the site work that needs to be done. We’re in the process of going out on cost to enter into a contract to get the site work done,” Hansen said Wednesday. “We’re a little further behind than we’d like to be, but we are getting close to entering into a contract. If work doesn’t begin this year, it will early next year; we’re shooting for this year though.
“(The Galaxy project), engineering plans have been submitted to the city for review, we’re trying to finalize some of the information necessary for some of the public facilities associated with that project,” he continued. “Working in particular with a sewer lift station, trying to get that final design and find out what power is available. We’re close to going out on cost for that as well. Not as close (as Econo Lodge), but moving forward. We should have cost early next year, and start to do some of the work early next year and get that ready to go.”
Tenants have not been officially secured, but Edwards said Star has “several prospective tenants for both sites.”
According to information presented during meetings last year, Star proposed to spend about $11.1 million to develop the property. Star is expected to contribute about $7.8 million, with $3.3 million coming from third party investments, and is seeking about $2.6 million plus interest in TIF and Community Improvement District (CID) sales tax reimbursement.
Edwards pointed out that reimbursement has not started, and will not start until the property value increases.
“There’s been no increase in the value of the property so they don’t get any money until that happens,” Edwards said. “There have not been payments related to either project until the value of the property increases because of construction at the site, buildings at the site.”
Both Edwards and Hansen attributed the delayed schedule to Star being a large corporation working on multiple developments, and smaller projects, such as Sedalia, tend to get pushed behind larger projects in metropolitan areas.
“It’s up to (Star) to keep prodding the consultants to get that work done, which we have been doing,” Hansen explained. “I attribute it to being busy — it’s hard to devote all their time to these projects because they have so many other things going on. … but we’re getting to the point where we can set people up if they are ready to go.”
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or on Twitter @NicoleRCooke.