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TIF process very similar to a runaway freight train

Mike Anthony
April 20, 2005 - Many times we've believed that the process to consider a developer's re-quest for tax-increment financing is similar to a freight train.

The process starts off slow with the first meeting of a TIF commission, then starts to build up steam as we believe the statute is designed to promote approval of such requests.

By the time of the mandated public hearing, the process is like a runaway freight train that is going so fast no one is able to stop it — especially the public. Opponents are run over by the out-of-control freight train speeding toward approval of the TIF.

Perhaps some might recall the Home Depot TIF fiasco in Green Park. Though a Home Depot wasn't built in Green Park, the city's TIF Commission did recommend approval of the proposal.

Or just consider what ultimately be-came Kohl's in Crestwood. At the time the city's TIF Commission recommended approval of the TIF assistance, Kohl's wasn't even in the mix.

Approval of request for TIF assistance usually is a done deal. In fact, we'd be hard pressed to recall any instances in south county of a TIF commission recommending against approval of a developer's request for TIF assistance — until last week.

That's when the Sunset Hills TIF Commission voted 6-5 to recommended rejection of the Novus Devel-opment Co.'s controversial request for $42 million in TIF assistance to construct a $163.9 million shopping center. Just as stunning as the amount of TIF assistance being requested was the fact that the commission recommended against the proposal.

Ironically, one of the city's representatives was absent April 11, but even if that commissioner had been present, the best the developer could have hoped for was a 6-6 deadlock — hardly a favorable recommendation to the city's Board of Aldermen, which has the final say in the matter.

We must say we found compelling the reasons — the amount of the TIF, the availability of affordable housing and a limited amount of available sales-tax dollars in the area, to name a few — given by those commission members who voted against Novus' request, including Lindbergh School District officials and county officials.

Despite those reasons, we're not naive enough to believe Sunset Hills aldermen will reject the Novus proposal.

Though we hope the city's aldermen will prove us wrong, we would be shocked if that occurred.

  • Pitch It & Forget It
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