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Two taxing districts vote against recommending TIF for Broadway Hotel

The Columbia Library District board members have voted against recommending tax increment financing for new development at the Broadway Hotel. The Columbia Public Schools Board of Education told its representatives on the TIF Commission to vote no on the proposal earlier this month.

In a letter to the commission, CLD board president Kathleen Markie said they had several concerns about the proposal, including that they didn’t think the property on Walnut met the basic requirement for TIF.

“Some members of the CLD board noted that the property now appears to be in a desirable location that makes it likely to be developed eventually without the necessity for a long-term property tax abatement,” Markie said.

Former deputy city manager Tony St. Romaine, who is working as a part-time consultant for the city on this project, told ABC17 News last week that historically, the lot has not been able to sustain business growth.

State law indicates that the development in question must pass two tests. The first requires the development in question be considered a conservation area. There are three elements necessary for that.

At least 50 percent of the structures on the lot are more than 35 years of age. The area is not yet blighted but is detrimental to the public health safety, morals and welfare The area may become blighted because of obsolescence, deleterious land use or layout and excessive vacancies.

If the area qualifies, then the “but-for” test comes into play. The test is whether the redevelopment area on the whole is a “conservation area” that has not been subject to growth and development through investment by private enterprise and would not reasonably be anticipated to be developed with the adoption of tax increment financing.

“The building that was on the site was built over 50 years ago,” St. Romaine said. “That site over those number of years has not developed into a high revenue producing property.”

County auditor June Pitchford has been one of two people representing Boone County on the TIF Commission. She noted in a letter to the commission Monday that many developments and construction downtown has been going forward without the use of TIF financing and because of this, the commission needed a clear focus on the basic, statutory framework of whether a TIF is necessary.

“Compelling evidence is needed to persuade the TIF Commission that no development whatsoever is likely on the subject property without TIF financing,” she wrote. “The applicant bears the burden of producing such evidence and, to date, I don’t believe such evidence has been provided.”

The city of Columbia enabled TIF in 2008, just after the recession, and the city council approved two projects for the Tiger Hotel and the Broadway Hotel, formerly known as the Regency in the few years following. Because the lifespan of TIF is 23 years, there hasn’t been a lot of evidence to show what kind of effect TIF has had on the downtown area, although county assessor Tom Schauwecker said the property tax “payments to the developers have been less than projected in their TIF applications.”

While the area has experienced explosive growth over the past 10 years, Schauwecker attributed the boom to an increase in undergraduate enrollment at the University of Missouri, which sparked more downtown housing developments. He said the assessed valuation in the Central Business District downtown has increased by more than 60 percent since 2008 and the assessed value of the city as a whole has increased almost 23 percent since 2008.

St. Romaine said Monday’s public hearing presentation will focus specifically on those statutory requirements.

You can find more information on tax increment finding here.

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