Panel backs TIF plan for Mall

Opponent calls TIFs ‘welfare for the rich’

The city’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Commission on Monday unanimously recommended a Capital Mall TIF plan to the City Council, after the mall’s owners said public support is “vital” to their mall redevelopment plan.

The vote was 9-0, with Midwest Block & Brick President Darryl Winegar, a representative of Jefferson City on the commission, abstaining.

About a dozen members of the public attended the two-hour meeting and public hearing. Three of them spoke; two in opposition and one with concerns.

“This is more welfare for the rich,” said Tim Stallman, adding that the plan is a great deal for the developer but a bad deal for the public.

He said the plan equated to “taxation without representation,” and that not much notice of the plan has been given to the public.

Ed Williams, the other opponent, urged the commission to wait for 60 days so that the public can be better informed about the project.

He said a sales tax is a sneaky tax, and that sales taxes aren’t popular in Jefferson City right now.

“If it did come to a vote, I think there’s a good chance it would fail,” he said.

Commissioners also expressed concerns.

Patrick Lynn, a city-appointed commissioner, said it’s a large TIF project, even for larger cities such as Kansas City and St. Louis. He asked whether it would be a better business plan to tear the mall down rather than renovate it.

Farmer Holding’s Rob Kingsbury said tearing it down would be a problem because of the current leases. And while the mall was closed for that period, they would still incur expenses.

Joe Lauber, a Lee’s Summit attorney specializing in TIF issues, represented the city, saying the project met the six findings required for approval.

Tom Calico, a financial advisor from Springsted Inc., also represented the city, saying the renovation is a “fairly high-risk” project because of the mall’s age, and that it wouldn’t be able to occur without public support.

The City Council must give final approval to the TIF plan, which would last for 23 years and raise an estimated $10.6 million to apply to renovations. The TIF district would include the mall and some of the surrounding properties, including Hy-Vee, Capital 8 Theaters, Pizza Hut, Wendy’s and Central Bank.

The council will consider the TIF at its Nov. 18 meeting.

The TIF plan would allow Farmer Holding Company to divert half of the increases in sales taxes in the district and all of the increases in property taxes to the redevelopment plan.

The council already has started the process for a community improvement district (CID) that would increase sales tax on the property by 1 percent for the next 40 years. That additional 1 percent paid by mall shoppers also will go toward mall redevelopment.

With both the TIF and CID, the nearly $37 million redevelopment plan would be split between Farmer Holding, which would pay 57.4 percent ($21.1 million, including purchase of the mall) and the public financing would total 38 percent, or about $15.6 million.

Farmer Holding Company bought the mall for $11 million late last year. The local company recently commissioned a blight study that says the mall has become a liability and is unsafe, with “conditions endangering life and property by fire and other causes.”

The study also called the mall area “a menace to the public health and safety in its present condition and use.”

The News Tribune’s Madeleine Leroux contributed to this story.

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