The Town Council of Normal is scheduled to take up on Monday a final agreement to fill the hole in the ground in the Uptown District. The town provides the land, $7.35 million in cash, 113 spaces in the parking deck, and waives permit and development fees for Tartan Realty and the Harlem Irving Group to build a multi story building with retail, a hotel, and luxury apartments. The Town hopes the direct tax revenue from the project will be enough to cover the bonds issued to cover the cash contribution over 20 years. The failed previous project did not offer significant up front taxpayer money. It did promise tax money from the increased value of the development. Mayor Chris Koos says the reason for the change in the timing of the taxpayer contribution stems from the recession.
"The difference in that is the result of the change of climate in the lending environment. In 2006 banks were willing to take the revenue stream as equity and currently they are not."
Tartan Realty is also getting trailing tax money from sales and property tax rebates as One Main would have in its effort. But, Koos points out the TIF District has six years less of lifespan than One Main would have received had that project been completed. He says that partially offsets the up front taxpayer incentive. The town estimates six years of TIF money at more than a million dollars. Tartan will receive substantially more in up front cash. City Manager Mark Peterson resists comparing the two projects saying they are much different and the circumstances are different. Mayor Koos says for one thing, Tartan's proposal is larger than One Main's plan.
Town staff say doing the project now would add a fine dining option to the Uptown District. Interest rates are very low right now, and the existing building foundation will begin to deteriorate soon if not used to finish the building. The staff also stress the economic benefit from the construction jobs and claim the project would not be economically viable for Tartan without a town contribution.
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