New Brighton Planning Commission supports subsidies for elementary site redevelopment


courtesy of City of New Brighton The New Brighton Planning Commission recommended creating a tax increment finance district to help move along redevelopment of the former New Brighton Elementary School site, which would give tax breaks to the development.

Another benchmark has been passed on the way to redevelopment of the former New Brighton Elementary School site. 

The New Brighton Planning Commission decided at its April 16 meeting that designating the school area as a tax increment financing district was in line with the city’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan, and it will move to recommend the designation to the New Brighton City Council. 

Typically, the creation of TIF districts allows for redevelopment to be undertaken quickly, as it ensures cash for the project by earmarking any increase in property taxes on the land to be used as reimbursement for development costs. The former elementary school site is slotted for 358 affordable apartments and 54 owner-occupied townhomes.

The initial proposal is that the city will not pay any increase in property tax on the school’s site and five surrounding parcels, all of which are owned or may be bought by the city, for 26 years starting in 2021. The captured money will go toward repayment of expenditures, such as for site clean up and demolition of the current building. 

Current city estimates say the investment put into the site to improve it for redevelopment should be recuperated in 15 to 16 years, at which time the TIF district will be discontinued. 

“Establishment of the new TIF district will ensure the present day level of tax generation will continue to be distributed moving forward and no government agency will lose their revenue,” City Manager Dean Lotter said in an email. “The additional taxes, however, that are generated by the nearly $100 million of investment in the site will be captured, rather than being distributed, and will be used to pay for improvements necessary for the development to happen.”

Before coming before the Planning Commission, the TIF district passed muster with another city commission.

“The Economic Development Commission did already review this proposal from an economic perspective and they are recommending council proceed with the proposed modification,” said Ben Gozola, assistant director of community assets and development, during a presentation at the April 16 meeting.

In addition to calling for the creation of a new TIF district, the motion that was before the Planning Commission also proposed re-designating the boundaries of Development District No. 1 to include the entire City of New Brighton. 

Erin Nichols-Matkaiti, Planning Commission chair, asked about the potential ramifications of the expansion. 

“It’s really two things: one, it does save the need to have to change that development district every single time you go in and do something or add a new TIF district,” said Gozola. “Two, it provides the city with more flexibility on how the dollars within this TIF district can be used.”

Gozola anticipates necessary street improvement of roads that are near to the planned development, but not technically within its district. Creating one overarching development area will allow for dollars from the new TIF district to be used more easily on nearby projects related to it.

Commissioners unanimously agreed to recommend the motion to the city council. With the support of both the planning and economic development commissions, the council held a public hearing on the TIF district proposal on April 23, after deadline for some editions of this paper.

 

–Bridget Kranz can be reached at bkranz@lillienews.com or 651-748-7823.

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