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Columbia City Council approves TIF for new Broadway Hotel tower

The Broadway Hotel will receive $2 million in tax increment financing to help build a new eight-story tower.

The Columbia City Council approved the TIF plan in a 5-2 vote on Monday night. The council needed five votes, or two-thirds of the council, to approve the plan because the city’s TIF Commission recommended they reject the plan.

Mayor Brian Treece and Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas voted against the proposal.

The Broadway Hotel will keep some of the sales and property tax it would otherwise pay after developing the space toward the cost of building. David Parmley, owner of The Broadway, said TIF will make up $2 million of the estimated $20 million in building the site, which will feature 80 new hotel rooms and a full-floor banquet space on the top floor. The Broadway’s second tower would continue to pay that lesser rate for 23 years.

“We understood that we were up against some hardship here,” Parmley told ABC 17 News after the vote. “I think the council members took the 30,000-foot view of the project, could clearly see the benefits of the project to the community and voted accordingly.”

Council members supporting the plan credited the economic impact of the new hotel for their vote. Even with the TIF, the Broadway is forecast to produce more than $9 million in taxes for public agencies. Parmley said the tower would also create 37 full-time jobs, which would consist of “entry-level” jobs.

Dozens of people, including Parmley’s employees at hotels across the city, spoke at the meeting to support the plan. Others, including business leaders and other hoteliers, said the hotel expansion would stimulate other parts of the economy such as downtown Columbia’s businesses and other companies that would supply various banquets there.

Treece was skeptical that the project cleared the legal bar needed for TIF. Projects must show that the property is a “conservation area” and that the place is becoming detrimental to health and safety. It also must show that a project couldn’t be built there unless it had TIF to back it, called the “but-for” test.

“I definitely can’t predict that there’s going to be no development on that site in the next 23 years,” Treece said. “If anything, because of The Broadway’s success, we do have a growing downtown and investment is possible and probable on that site.”

First Ward Councilman Clyde Ruffin, who represents the downtown area, said a vote for the TIF allowed him to support a development plan he could see working.

“When I hear the compelling testimony of the employees and opportunities for not only creating jobs, but employing local people, and not only providing employment, but the opportunity to work in an environment where someone cares about your whole life…I feel that the opportunities outweigh all the risk,” Ruffin said.

Both the Columbia Public Schools Board of Education and the Columbia Public Library board asked its TIF Commission representatives to vote against the plan. Both groups felt the project didn’t meet the legal requirements for TIF.

Sixth Ward Councilwoman Betsy Peters said she was concerned that she would be voting against the TIF Commission’s recommendation. Their reasons focused on the project not meeting the legal standards, she said, while she believed that it did.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen in 23 years,” Peters said. “I can tell you know that we have the opportunity to help you build a hotel that will bring more jobs downtown.”

Parmley said he expects to start construction of the tower in spring 2018, with completion scheduled for fall 2019.

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