Wednesday, April 25, 2018

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New Eau Claire TIF district eyed to fund downtown upgrades

Added property value would aid parking ramp, library plaza, funding for performing arts center

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    Eau Claire City Hall on July 15, 2010.

    Staff photo by Dan Reiland
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Downtown parking ramp improvements, a plaza outside the library and a share of the city’s contribution for a performing arts center could be funded through a new Eau Claire tax increment financing district.

Plans released Friday by the city show an eight-block area of downtown, including The Lismore hotel and other buildings along South Barstow and South Farwell streets, are proposed for inclusion in a new TIF District No. 11.

“We’re creating TIF 11 to bring a couple other development sites in,” city finance director Jay Winzenz said.

If approved during several upcoming meetings, the district would use taxes on new buildings and renovations within its borders to pay for city improvements in that area.

In addition to the hotel, which is undergoing major renovation, the district would include the aging downtown bus transfer station and a city parking lot on South Barstow Street, both of which would be potential private redevelopment sites.

“We wanted to go ahead and create a district that would pull in those areas as well,” Winzenz said.

The eight-block area currently is valued at $14.9 million by the city, but the renovation of The Lismore plus other developments could lead to $21 million in new property value, according to the city’s projections.

Under the TIF plan, taxes on those new and renovated buildings could be used until 2035 to pay for city projects and incentives to developers before it would go onto the general property tax rolls.

Those city projects include about $1 million to improve the existing city parking ramp located next to The Lismore and creating a public plaza worth about $1.1 million between City Hall and L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library.

TIF No. 11 also could be a source for part of the city’s $5 million pledge to help build a $40 million downtown community performing arts center included in the Confluence Project. Existing TIF District No. 10, which was created around the Confluence Project, also is a potential source of that contribution.

“The TIFs are possible ways to fund that contribution,” Winzenz said.

The TIF district plans alone do not approve using the funds for that, he added. That would require an appropriation made by the City Council.

Also, the city would limit its projects within the district until the actual value of new buildings are known, according to the TIF plan.

The Joint Review Board — a panel of city, Eau Claire County, Eau Claire school district and Chippewa Valley Technical College representatives — will hold its initial meeting on the TIF No. 11 proposal at 9 a.m. Friday at City Hall, 203 S. Farwell St.

The proposal will then be subject to public hearings and decisions by the Plan Commission on Aug. 17 and the City Council in September, before returning to the Joint Review Board for a final vote.

The city also is seeking to redraw boundaries of TIF No. 10 because four of its blocks will instead be used for TIF No. 11.

Contact: 715-833-9204, andrew.dowd@ecpc.com, @ADowd_LT on Twitter


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