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Council to vote on TIF partnership

The Urban County Council will decide Tuesday whether to adopt a resolution indicating it is willing to create a TIF district around the downtown CentrePointe hotel and condominium project.

If approved, the resolution will go to council for a first reading Thursday. Because the developers and the city administration want to hurry CentrePointe's tax increment financing application along to Frankfort, the council could suspend its rules Thursday and give the resolution a second reading.

A draft of the resolution, obtained Monday, directs the city's TIF consultant, Jim Parsons, to prepare a development plan for the Phoenix Park/Courthouse Development Area. The plan would outline the district boundaries and the proposed public improvement projects and costs, and give the overall rationale for establishing the district.

Tax increment financing is an incentive program to revitalize blighted urban areas. It works by capturing new taxes from a revitalized area to pay upfront for public improvements.

When CentrePointe was announced in March, developers Dudley Webb and his nephew Woodford said that TIF money was essential for their 35-story, $250 million project to be built.

After a wave of public opposition, the Webbs announced they had full equity financing for the project and TIF funds were no longer needed. But they agreed to work with the city on a TIF project to give an economic and aesthetic boost to CentrePointe's downtown neighborhood.

The Webbs, however, have refused to reveal their source of financing for CentrePointe, angering several council members. Vice Mayor Jim Gray, who opposes the project, said he will vote against Tuesday's resolution.

"I've been clear from the beginning," Gray said, "I'm opposed to moving this project further along, especially without knowing where the money's coming from, and without a fuller examination of the developers' past performance."

Council member George Myers said he would support the resolution to have the city partner with the Webbs on the TIF application to Frankfort.

"The Webbs are going to do this project whether people like it or not," Myers said. "So the question becomes, do we want to try to capture TIF benefits for the city or not? If it succeeds and we don't do the TIF, we will lose out on a lot of benefits."

Myers said it "doesn't make sense" to refuse to partner with the Webbs because their project might not succeed. "If CentrePointe should fail, it's not us losing credibility, it's the Webbs losing credibility," Myers said. "I don't think we have anything to lose."

The work session will be at 3 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers at the Government Center, 200 East Main Street.