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The city must invest in its future

Tax abatement for Iowa Wholesale project should be approved

May 27, 2012

As major development goes on Marshalltown's Main Street, the city council has been asked to sweeten the deals for multi-million dollar projects lately - a dilemma many communities would like to have.

A few months ago, the developer of the Tallcorn Towers project asked that the Susie Sower Park become a privately-owned green space. That request was approved by the council, which boosted its application to the Iowa Finance Authority, clearing the way for the project to receive low-income tax credits. The Tallcorn Tower makeover represents a $9.7 million investment in our community.

Now, city council has been asked to approve a 10-year property tax abatement for the Iowa Wholesale project on East Main Street - an agreement it should gladly approve.

The Iowa Wholesale project is a $5.2 million renovation that will bring 28 additional housing units downtown. This project will not only spur continued growth and investment in the downtown area, but also clearly aligns with other efforts underway to rejuvenate the east end of Main Street.

By the time the abatement agreement ends, the property will pay more in taxes because of the increased valuation of that property. The developer's request clearly indicates the city will have recouped all the money it had to forgo by the eleventh year.

Further, developers Cohen-Esrey say the abatement will mean it can charge lower rents in the 28 apartments for seniors. It only needs the abatement for cash flow while the incurred debt for the project is retired.

If the project were to happen, the Iowa Wholesale building will be operational for many years to come. If the renovation doesn't occur the future of the building becomes uncertain. It could easily become a vacant building rather than a paying investment.

We think it's good practice to consider the long-term benefits of the redevelopment of the Iowa Wholesale building, along with any other major opportunities in our city. We challenge our city council members to envision the impact this project will have over the next several decades. We hope the council approves the abatement, and moves the Iowa Wholesale project forward. It will pay off.



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