By RICK HAYES
---- — MT. VERNON — An amendment to the Tax Increment Financing Redevelopment Plan and Project for the Industrial Park Conservation Area was recommended by the TIF Joint Review Board on Wednesday.
The scope of the project has changed in recent months from industrial to residential, due to the acquisition of land immediately to the south of the District by the Mt. Vernon Township High School District, and a developer has expressed interest in building new housing units in the affected area, it was explained.
According to information presented “a natural location for new housing development would be in proximity to the new high school facilities, provided that such residential development could be served with the necessary streets and utilities.” The new residential development, approximately 70 acres, would be developed on the north side of East Ambassador Road, across the street from the future MVTHS.
The developer will not proceed with the project without financial incentives that tax increment financing can provide. As a result, the amendment was recommended, which will now move to the city council for approval.
City Manager Ron Neibert indicated a public hearing will have to be held first, followed by council action, which is likely to occur during the Aug. 5 meeting.
Only three members of the JRB voted on the recommendation, including Neibert, District 80 Superintendent Mike Green, and Paul Lynch, who was appointed as a public member of the body.
“There is nothing here that any significant ways alters the purpose of the TIF,” Lynch said. “Fundamentally, it looks like a good idea to me.”
Green added, “I agree with Paul. It looks a good idea. Residential would be beneficial, and it doesn’t change the goals of TIF.”
“We left enough flexibility in our comprehensive plan to allow us to do this,” Neibert said.
“I like it because it creates places for people to live who actually work nearby there,” said Mike Weber of Peckham, Guyton, Alberts and Viets, Inc. Planners, the city’s TIF consultant agency. “You might actually get back to the days where people can walk to school or walk to work.”
Neibert said the amendment will allow the city to focus on its housing shortage, while drawing economic interest to the community.
“The critical factor where it affects us is in terms of trying to attract certain classes of retailers. They look for rooftops, population and per capita income. This address all of those things, and by creating market rate housing it helps raise the city’s per capita income,” he said.
Neibert added the development is in line with the city’s housing study which documented the city needs housing in the $125,000 to $175,000 price range.
Amended estimated redevelopment project costs were placed at $52.6 million. Specific line item costs include: $18.7 million for public works or improvements; $3.5 million for property assembly costs, $2.3 million for site preparation, $2.7 million in taxing district capital costs, $1.1 million for job training, $16.5 million for interest costs incurred by developers, $1.1 million for planning, legal and professional services, $552,000 for general administration, $3.4 million for school districts increased costs, and $2.5 million in contingency.
Construction costs (excluding infrastructure costs) is estimated to be about $30 million, which could result in 300 construction jobs, it was reported.
Neibert said the costs associated with the project are expected to be shared between the city and the unnamed developer, and Weber added the total project cost could be much higher than the estimates provided.