The Desco Group is hoping to qualify for $9.6 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) through the city of St. Charles. Thursday night the TIF commission had questions about the developer's plans for an area across from Lindenwood University.
The Lindenwood Town Center project would replace blighted homes and stores and could feature a Schnucks, new post office, restaurant, and other businesses. Lindenwood University owns the property.
The Question of Blight
According to MissouriDevelopment.org, TIF allows a portion of local property and sales taxes to fund redevelopment of property classified as a "blighted."
The blight analysis conducted by the consultant Development Strategies determined that more than 95 percent of the buildings redevelopment area have several "blighting factors," including:
- aging structures
- structures with asbestos
- property that fails to meet zoning codes
- and a lack of adequate sidewalks
Some members of the commission said by that definition, several parts of St. Charles could be considered blighted.
Commissioner Vicky Huesemann said no one else has invested in the area for more than ten years, because investors and developers believed Lindenwood University would purchase the properties.
Huesemann and Commissioner Matthew Brown said this is probably what led to the blight in the first place.
“It is my concern that we set up a situation that incentivizes people to make a blighted area,” Huesemann said.
Marks said most of the area slated for the proposed Lindenwood Town Center was at a flat or negative-assessed value before the university purchased the properties.
Many commissioners had concerns about traffic flow in the area if the development moves forward.
City Engineer Kevin Corwin said, because the proposed road project is to run parallel to Highway 94, the project should reduce traffic at intersections like 94 and Zumbehl Road.
Huesemann said she is more concerned about cars pulling in and out of the grocery store while people are trying to get to work.
“Is this really going to work for traffic flow with this much stuff going on there?” Huesemann said. “If that were all there, I probably would avoid it.”
Corwin said the project does not include plans to widen the road in front of the redevelopment area.
Commissioner Donald Dilly also expressed concern for residents of Spring and Cunningham Avenues, which would will likely to be closed off from First Capitol Drive.
Corwin said Spring Avenue would be extended South to Timber Lane Drive. Residents of Spring and Cunningham would then use Boone’s Lick Drive to access First Capitol.
“The city is also exploring other options for a secondary Cunningham connection that would be a short road over to Boone,” Corwin said.
The public hearing about the proposed Lindenwood Town Center is set for November 3rd in the St. Charles City Council chambers.
The TIF commission voted to extend the time people are allowed to speak from three minutes to five minutes.
Sachtleben said the development near SSM St. Joseph Health Center, the relocation of U.S. Post Office in St. Charles, and the West Clay Redevelopment project are all dependent on one another for any of the projects to work.
“If one piece doesn’t happen, basically none of it is going to happen,” Sachtleben said.