The Overland Park City Council and staff are making progress on a new tax increment financing policy.
At its Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday evening, city council members mulled a draft of the TIF policy being pieced together by city staff and the Finance, Administration and Economic Development Committee of the council.
The council wanted a new TIF policy since the city is experiencing more and more requests from developers for the use of the economic development tool. A TIF is when certain development costs are paid by the incremental increase in taxes that would be generated from the district’s redevelopment.
The policy will help guide the council in the process of creating TIF redevelopment districts and approving TIF project plans.
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Currently, the city has four TIF projects: Cherokee South Shopping Center at the southwest corner of 95th Street and Antioch Road; Valley View Shopping Center, which includes a Hy-Vee at 95th and Antioch; the Promontory at 91st Street and Metcalf Avenue, and Avenue 80 at 80th Street and Metcalf.
There are also several projects in the midst of the TIF process. Those include the Brookridge Golf Course at Interstate 435 and Antioch; and InterUrban Lofts, Market Lofts, and The Vue, all in downtown Overland Park. A developer looking to rebuild Metcalf South also wanted TIF but has withdrawn the proposal.
The draft of the TIF policy suggests the city consider use of tax increment financing for projects that not only meet the requirements of the state TIF Act, but for those which are in the best interest of the city.
It states the city should use the financial incentive to shape the appearance, character and functionality of the community in ways that wouldn’t happen without public assistance. It also states that TIF could be used to promote economic development and job creation in the city, and promote mixed-use developments.
One section suggests prioritizing TIF for certain geographic areas in the city that the council wants to see revitalized, such as downtown Overland Park, within the Vision Metcalf Corridor and along Shawnee Mission Parkway.
Vision Metcalf is the city’s blueprint for the revitalization of its main commercial corridor, which runs from just south of I-35 all the way to where Metcalf Avenue and Blue Valley Parkway intersect.
Many of the council members liked the idea, but Councilman Dan Stock stated he hoped it wouldn’t turn the governing body’s attention from other parts of town in need.
“We have so many aging strip malls in our city, especially along 75th Street,” he said. “If we’re focusing on just one corridor, we’re missing out on other opportunities for revitalization.”
Councilman Terry Goodman suggested that perhaps the council could be more selective when it came to offering a TIF, such as approving one for office space within a project but for not apartment buildings, for example.
Fairness was another topic of discussion.
“I’d like to see stronger language protecting our current businesses,” said Councilman Fred Spears. “For example, I don’t want to TIF a Hy-Vee and put a Sun Fresh across the street out of business because it doesn’t have a TIF. I don’t want this policy to negatively impact businesses.”
Stock also suggested the possibility of creating areas of town, such as downtown Overland Park, for example, as entire TIF districts, to alleviate the individual application process for each developer.
At the end of the meeting, the council agreed the policy should be somewhat flexible. After all, with only four TIF projects up and running, the city is still fairly new to the game.
“We should maintain an aura of flexibility because we don’t want to draw hard lines in the sand,” Councilman David White said.
The governing body’s thoughts will be considered by the Finance, Administration and Economic Development Committee when it discusses the draft on Sept. 16.
The council is tentatively scheduled to vote on the policy in November.
If approved then, the policy will go into effect in January 2016.
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