Batavia considering new TIF to help facilitate One Washington Place, other redevelopment
A study has determined creating a special taxing district would be feasible to facilitate redevelopment in downtown Batavia, including at the proposed One Washington Place site.
But while several aldermen support the concept, which would require dissolving an existing tax increment financing district, others are hesitant to move forward with a plan centered around incentivizing the large-scale, $40 million mixed-use development.
Proposed by Geneva-based Shodeen Group, One Washington Place plans call for apartments, a parking garage and retail space at North River and State streets. That site would be at the core of a potential new TIF, the Near East Downtown District, that also incorporates properties along East Wilson Street, North Washington Avenue and North and South River streets.
The parcels make up an older section of downtown that has shown signs of deterioration and declining property values, economic development consultant Chris Aiston said. Establishing a taxing district could help spur redevelopment while making One Washington Place financially viable.
During a committee meeting Tuesday, aldermen voted 9-5 to accept the findings of the feasibility study and direct Aiston to move into the next stage of the process.
Should the city eventually decide to create the TIF, officials would first have to abolish a smaller Washington-Wilson TIF, initially created to help pay off the $16 million in bonds the city planned to issue to help finance One Washington Place. Multiple delays pushed back the project by about three years, resulting in an anticipated $3 million shortfall when the 23-year TIF expires.
In a TIF district, property taxes generated above a certain level are funneled into redevelopment, rather than to local governments.
City leaders recently presented the "de-TIF, re-TIF" strategy that would reset the clock, allow the city to recoup as much of its investment as possible, and ultimately keep the project alive.
Shodeen has begun a separate process seeking approval on updated plans for One Washington Place. A public hearing is scheduled for July 1.
However, some aldermen said they believe the city should instead pursue a smaller-scale development that would be feasible within the remaining 20 years of the Washington-Wilson TIF.
"This isn't the only big project we have on the horizon," Alderman Marty Callahan said. "We have to balance the physical topography of our downtown with the amount of people we're trying to put in it."
Though technically a separate decision, the establishment of a new TIF is closely linked to One Washington Place plans, he added. He voted "no," along with aldermen Elliot Meitzler, Mark Uher, Keenan Miller and Joe Knopp.
Not only would the new TIF support Shodeen's project, but it also could help incentivize building upgrades, public improvements or other development opportunities within its larger footprint, City Administrator Laura Newman said. The residential density of One Washington Place alone would likely inspire other businesses to open and boost the area's economic vitality.