New TIF district set for Landing

August 3rd, 2016

To spur development, upgrades near river

By DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette

In a 6-2 vote Tuesday, the Fort Wayne City Council approved the creation of a new Tax Increment Financing district near the downtown riverfront.

The area includes The Landing and the Superior Lofts residential development, Redevelopment Director Nancy Townsend told the council Tuesday.

A tax increment financing district is a form of economic development incentive used to entice businesses to move to an area. Property tax revenue generated within a TIF district can be captured and used for public improvements within that district.

“We’re proposing this area because it’s a natural continuation of the investments made in other areas downtown,” Townsend said.

The new TIF district is bounded roughly by Calhoun Street to the east, Berry Street to the south, and Maiden Lane and Harrison Street to the west. The district’s northern boundary aligns generally with the south bank of the St. Marys River.

Townsend said the plan for the area includes improvements to much of the area’s water and sewer infrastructure, particularly in the area near The Landing.

“A lot of the utility infrastructure is Civil War-era, as you all know if you’re familiar with this area,” Townsend said. “It’s 1860s, pre-1900 infrastructure that needs to be replaced to support a mixed-use development to the intensity that’s contemplated in this area.”

Plans also call for curb, sidewalk, lighting and other streetscape improvements, Townsend said. The idea is to match the streetscape to that of other downtown improvements to make the area a connecting point between downtown and the river, she said. Also, 44 percent of the area consists of surface parking, Townsend said, which is not considered the best use for downtown real estate.

“You want density, you want buildings, activities, stores, housing,” Townsend said. “So another thing contemplated as part of this (district) would likely be the creation of multi-story parking so some of the surface lots can turn into buildings and quality-of-place locations.”

Council President Russ Jehl, R-2nd, and Councilman Jason Arp, R-4th, both voted against the measure. Councilman Tom Freistroffer, R-at large, was absent for Tuesday’s meeting.

Explaining his vote, Arp said he would rather allow the business community to invest in the area on its own.

“We have to ask ourselves what are the primary roles of government,” Arp said. “Is this something that we want to be diverting money from things that are primary goals to fund an entertainment venue that I think the private market over time will invest in, considering the investment we’re making in a public park right next to this area, without using taxpayer money to do so.”

Arp also said creating TIF districts takes money away from other taxing bodies. However, in her presentation to the council, Townsend said none of the other taxing units will receive less tax revenue than they currently do as a result of the new TIF district.

In other business, the City Council approved a $497,960 contract with DLZ Indiana LLC for the redevelopment of Goshen Avenue. The goal is to revamp it as an urban street, City Engineer Shan Gunawardena told the council.

The project calls for the addition of a center turn lane between Sherman and Cambridge boulevards, sidewalks on both sides of Goshen and handicapped-accessible ramps. The project also calls for new landscaping, ornamental lighting and drainage improvements.

A roundabout at the intersection of Goshen Avenue, Sherman Boulevard and Lillian Avenue is also being considered to improve traffic flow and discourage truck traffic.

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