• Newest Independence TIF taking shape

  • Another tax increment financing plan is in the works for eastern Independence.

    And this one is “a little different, at first glance,” City Manager Robert Heacock said earlier this week.

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  • Another tax increment financing plan is in the works for eastern Independence.
    And this one is “a little different, at first glance,” City Manager Robert Heacock said earlier this week.
    Known as the Interstate 70 and Little Blue Parkway TIF, project proposals within the redevelopment area include the future site of Menards and the planned Crackerneck Center development (separate but near The Falls at Crackerneck Creek).
    The TIF Commission recommended approval of the TIF and two redevelopment projects at its Nov. 15 meeting. Susan Wray, assistant director of libraries for Mid-Continent Public Library, was the lone opposing vote. The Rev. Bob Spradling abstained his vote, citing a potential conflict of interest related to bonds for the Independence Events.
    The City Council had a first reading on Monday and will take a final vote on Dec. 17.
    While a majority of TIF plans in Independence have involved a private developer coming before the city, the I-70 and Little Blue Parkway proposal is a city-initiated TIF plan, just like the 23rd Street and Noland Road TIF that the TIF Commission recommended for approval in early October and that City Council members approved on Monday.
    Regional TIF plans throughout this area include Centerpoint, Cornerstone, Hartman Heritage, Trinity, Eastland and Crackerneck Creek (Bass Pro Shops). Three other regional TIF plans – Crossroads, Bolger Square and Independence Commons – are already closed out and earlier than initially projected.
    “This region is unique – certainly on the western side of Missouri and possibly throughout the entire state – with regard to how TIF has been used by the city for development of this region,” said David Bushek, an attorney with Gilmore & Bell law firm, which the city partnered with in preparing the TIF application. “The TIF plans that have been approved by the city take on the look of a puzzle. There are certain pieces of the puzzle that still aren’t in place, but TIF has been used extensively and successfully by the city in this area.”
    Bushek also said that without TIF assistance, many of the regional TIF plans on the city’s east side would likely have gone undeveloped.
    The area, minus the Crackerneck Creek TIF, also includes the Independence Events Center community improvement district, which collects a sales tax that is designated toward paying off the debt issued for the Events Center construction.
    When TIF is enacted where a special sales tax like the CID is already in place, all of the revenue collected from the CID goes to its original purpose, Bushek said.
    At this time, the proposed TIF includes four projects, the first of which is the Menards home improvement store and a planned convenience store nearby. With revenue generated from that first project, improvements are planned for a right-turn lane into the northeast corner of I-70 and Little Blue Parkway, as well as Jackson Drive intersection improvements.
    Page 2 of 2 - The TIF is pay-as-you-go, meaning Menards will construct the improvements and initially fund them and the TIF revenue will reimburse them over time, Bushek said.
    Another project proposal is Crackerneck Center, which recently received approval from the City Council for its own community improvement district sales tax. Retail, a car wash and several restaurants are planned for that development.
    Public improvements in the southwest portion of the TIF also will be funded, which incorporates only the undeveloped portions of The Falls at Crackerneck Creek, which is anchored by Bass Pro Shops. The three existing businesses – Bass Pro Shops, Mardel and Hobby Lobby – aren’t included within the redevelopment area, Bushek said.
    Improvements that take place within one area of the TIF, in turn, benefit the entire region, Bushek said. The regional draw also helps all retail sales, he added, as well as the regional trail connection.
    “A person who makes a destination trip to a particular location within this region frequently stops at the other businesses in the region,” Bushek said. “That demonstrates the connectivity that exists between these TIF plans.”
    According to an affidavit submitted by Menards, the developer for the TIF’s first project, the proposed redevelopment area is blighted and would not reasonably be anticipated to develop without the use of TIF, Bushek said. He said a study ruled the project area “blighted” based on economic underutilization, inadequate street layout and unsanitary/unsafe conditions.
    The plan doesn’t call for the city to issue any new debt, and plan funds will only go toward public improvements, Bushek said. The plan doesn’t impose any new taxes or increase taxes on any properties, shoppers or retailers.
    “From the shoppers’ perspective, they will still pay the same taxes that are in effect,” Bushek said. “The plan just redirects how some of those taxes are spent and redirects how some of the property taxes are spent.”

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