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Crestwood TIF proposal 'sets a great precedent'

"Call the Tune" by Mike Anthony

Mike Anthony
It's certainly no secret that this newspaper has not been a big supporter of tax-increment financing.

Nor have we found much enthusiasm from residents about providing subsidies to developers as we've chronicled the misuses and attempted misuses of TIF since the late 1990s.

What we've found interesting is that sometimes after a company has proposed a redevelopment project that it swears couldn't be accomplished without the use of TIF assistance, the project nevertheless goes forward and is done without using TIF funds.

Certainly, some developers have perverted the intent of the legislation providing for TIF assistance. And we've reported — time after time — the contention of city officials that they have no choice but to use TIF assistance as an incentive to developers just to stay competitive with neighboring cities that are offering the same type of inducements.

We've also reported on public hearings that were packed with residents opposed to a TIF proposal. But that wasn't the case last week when a handful of residents attended a public hearing conducted by the Crestwood TIF Commission on G.J. Grewe Inc.'s redevelopment plan for the Watson Plaza shopping center.

The cost of the proposal is estimated at $11.2 million, excluding funding generated by a Transportation Development District that would be used to pay for improvements to Watson Road. Besides TDD funds, G.J. Grewe is seeking $2 million in TIF assistance to facilitate land-acquisition costs.

Only one resident spoke at the public hearing, saying he supported the proposal provided that the developer would not seek additional funding — an assurance that Gary Grewe gave later at the hearing.

The reason for the lack of public outcry is simple: The TIF plan calls for passing through to all taxing districts all payments in lieu of taxes, called PILOTs. That means that all taxing districts immediately will receive the benefit of the redevelopment and not have to wait until any TIF obligations are retired — something that particularly pleased Lindbergh School District officials.

While the Call is not a big supporter of TIF assistance, this proposal is one we can live with as G.J. Grewe Inc. — to its credit — essentially is taking all the risks associated with the project. We hope other developers take note of this project, which Pat Lanane of the Lindbergh School District said "sets a great precedent.''

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