Largest “signature” TIF projects still in holding patterns

Last year, one of the top topics of conversation in Owensboro and Daviess County was the proposed Gateway Commons “signature” tax increment financing proposal for an expansive development off of Kentucky 54. 

The Owensboro project fell by the wayside after failing to meet state approval, but even those other “signature” TIF projects that garnered state support have been moving forward slowly, if they are moving at all. 

The unsuccessful $321 million project proposal in Owensboro would have used public tax dollars to build an arena, a convention center and other public infrastructure needs for the 265-acre development that would have also included retail, commercial and residential space. 

Under tax increment financing, tax dollars generated within a new development can be funneled back to the developer to cover construction costs of public amenities. 

The project as designed died when the state Tax Increment Financing Commission denied the application to establish the TIF district, saying the program was not designed to fund projects on undeveloped “greenfields.”

Although the Gateway Commons TIF district didn’t pass muster, the state commission did approve several other signature TIF projects around the state, including the Ovation development in the northern Kentucky city of Newport, the Museum Plaza project in downtown Louisville and an expansive downtown development district in Bowling Green.   Continue reading

Bowling Green looks to expand downtown TIF

The Bowling Green City Commission is meeting this afternoon to consider expanding a downtown tax increment financing district approved last year by the state. 

Jim Gaines with the Bowling Green Daily News is reporting that the commission is meeting this afternoon to consider the expansion of the district from 106 acres to 383 acres – a move that would place nearly all of downtown in the district. 

Warren County Fiscal Court has already given their approval to the move that will have to head to the state Tax Increment Financing Commission, which had signed off on the city’s plan last year.

Lexington’s council moves forward with CentrePointe TIF plan

Beverly Fortune with the Herald-Leader is reporting that the Lexington Urban City Council voted Thursday night to create a development plan for a tax increment financing district around the controversial CentrePointe development in downtown. 

The plan will include a look a what public amenities and projects could be be funded by a TIF district and how much those projects would cost to build. 

Among the projects being considered is a downtown farmers market, which Owensboro officials and members of the community have also pushed for.

Here’s a look at what the Lexington government is considering for the downtown TIF district – 

Lexington mulls TIF plans

As the CentrePointe project moves forward in downtown Lexington, the Urban County Council is making plans to partner with the project’s developers on a tax increment financing district.

The council is expected to vote today on a resolution indicating its willingness to create a downtown TIF district around the CentrePointe project, Beverly Fortune reports in today’s Herald-Leader. 

The resolution directs the city’s TIF consultant to prepare a development plan for the CentrePointe neighborhood that would outline the TIF district’s boundaries, the proposed public improvement projects and “the overall rationale” for creating the district.

Owensboro could find itself heading down a similar path in the future following the completion of the downtown master plan being worked on this week and the adoption of a proposed resolution regarding the Executive Inn Rivermont site on the riverfront. 

Both the Owensboro City Commission and Daviess Fiscal Court are mulling over adopting an official, written commitment to bringing a “convention class hotel” to the property in the future. 

draft resolution the city commission is considering adopting would signal that the body is “committed to pursuing a downtown Tax Increment Financing District that will include that property and which will assist financing those amenities” such as a convention or events center and parking structures to complement the hotel.

Members of both local government bodies have indicated they would support the resolution, and are just waiting for the proper language to be worked out. 

Part of this week’s design process for the downtown master plan includes a recommendation for financing mechanisms to make many of the proposals a reality, so it won’t be surprising to see local government advancing next year with TIF plans once the plan is completed, a process that Lexington is now undertaking.

Update…

The Herald-Leader is reporting that the council voted to move forward with the TIF district.

Evansville grappling with its own arena debate

While Owensboro and Daviess County look expectantly toward the closed Executive Inn Rivermont property as the possible location of a new events center, Evansville is dealing with its own issues in determining what kind of arena should replace the aging Roberts Stadium.

Reporter Jimmy Nesbitt with the Evansville Courier-Press is reporting that Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel said the city will hire a construction consultant, architect and financial adviser to see whether the city can afford to build a new arena without raising property taxes.

The financial firm – the London Witte Group – previously prepared a report in April 2007 for the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce and Owensboro-Daviess County Tourist Commission looking at a possible tax increment financing district in downtown Owensboro.

Staff with London Witte found that at least $20 million in public revenue could be generated over 20 years from a downtown TIF district that would include a $40 million privately owned hotel and $40 million publicly owned indoor events center.

Under tax increment financing, tax revenue generated within a specified development district can be used to pay for public improvements, including roads, parking areas or publicly owned facilities.

The London Witte report prepared for Owensboro fell by the wayside after the Owensboro city commission decided to pursue a larger signature TIF district on Kentucky 54 that failed late last year after the state rejected the district’s application.

Weinzapfel is apparently expecing the work of the three firms to be completed within the next three months, which could help end a years-long debate on the future of Roberts Stadium and need for a new arena, Nesbitt reported.