St. Charles City Council approved a $9.6 million tax increment financing package for a 31.5 acre development anchored by a Schnucks across from Lindenwood University.
The development, which is a joint project between Desco and Lindenwood University, will include several retail sites, restaurants, a hotel and room for relocation of the United States Post Office.
The council approved the TIF on a 9-1 vote with Councilman Tom Besselman, Ward-2, casting the lone dissenting vote.
"The project is going to be great, but I think it was going to be done without a TIF," Besselman said. "That's awfully expensive land for dorms. It's a prime location."
The $9.6 million TIF includes a self-imposed 1 percent sales tax that shoppers would pay at businesses in the development, which would generate $3.36 million over 23 years. A second portion is the $3.2 million in St. Charles sales tax revenues expected to be generated. The third portion is the $2.98 million in real estate tax that would be diverted.
Few people spoke out against the TIF at the meeting Tuesday, unlike at previous meetings. The council pulled the bill off the table and voted on it in the same night, a move that was allowed after the council changed council rules several weeks ago.
Resident Ruby McDonald, who lives near the development, objected to calling the area blighted.
"It is true we are not rich people, but we do take care of our property," she said. "I think you should be on the side of the citizens of St. Charles, the people who are paying your salaries."
School District to Get $100,000 from Developer, Lindenwood, City
The TIF agreement needed seven votes or a supermajority of the council for approval because the Tax Increment Financing Commission voted 8-4 against the proposal last November.
At the time, St. Charles School District Superintendent Randy Charles was opposed to the TIF because a large percentage of the taxes expected to be generated would be diverted from the school district.
The council on Tuesday approved another agreement between Lindenwood University, DESCO and the City that will give the school district $100,000 a year for each year the TIF is in effect.
The district will receive $25,00 from Lindenwood, $25,000 from DESCO and $50,000 from the city's general fund.
"Now there's something in it for the school district," Charles said.
Councilman Mike Weller, Ward-5, said he was opposed to giving $50,000 of the general fund to the school district. He said that money could have been spent on city streets.
"Our city streets are falling apart and they need a lot of work and a lot of resources," he said.
However, he said he's so committed to seeing the city grow around the University that he set his concerns aside to vote yes.
Post Office Relocation Key to Project
Council member Dave Beckering, Ward 7, said he was opposed to using a TIF for this project, but changed his mind.
"If we don't do this development, there will simply be more dorms built and it will continue to pay $0 in taxes," he said. "The other thing is, the hospital. If the Post Office doesn't move from its currently location, the hospital is land-locked."
At the heart of the Lindenwood Town Center is space for the United States Post Office to relocate from its current building on Fifth Street, giving SSM St. Joseph Health Center room to expand.
An agreement between the USPS and SSM has not yet been finalized, said St. Charles Economic Development Director David Leezer. However, money generated from the sale of the USPS property to SSM would be put toward building the new Post Office and Desco would fund any additional costs.
Once the city has a redevelopment agreement between the USPS and SSM, they can seek approval for West Clay Extension road project from the St. Charles County Council. The West Clay Extension will run along the south side of the development.
"If they don't approve it, the deal is dead," Leezer said.