The Marshalltown City Council has decided to move forward with creating a tax abatement revitalization sub-district.
At its Monday night Committee of the Whole Meeting, the council opted to continue discussions on design specifications for a zone on the east end of Main Street. Developers who opt to build or renovate in the area would be eligible for tax abatement.
The topic first came to the council in late May when Cohen-Esrey Affordable Partners LLC approached the council seeking a 10-year tax abatement to develop the Iowa Wholesale building into low-income housing.
T-R PHOTO BY DAVID ALEXANDER
Developers who want to turn the Iowa Wholesale building, shown here, into low-income housing could see a tax abatement granted. The council decided to move forward on designating that building, along with other East Main Street properties as revitalization areas which would be eligible for tax abatement.
According to a memo to the council at that time, the company said the savings from the abatement would lower rent on the apartments and prevent the Iowa Finance Authority from stopping the $5-million project.
The sub-district would include three properties on Main Street - the burned shell of 135, the Iowa Wholesale building at 201 and the Kibbey building, 129 - and would designate them as areas prime for revitalization.
Mayor Gene Beach said all three buildings qualify as a blight.
Leon Lamer, at-large council member, wondered if the council created the sub-district, whether it would be able to then add parcels not contiguous to the ones already designated.
He said if the city wants to allow parcels in other areas of town to be eligible for abatement, it could prove problematic.
"I don't want to tie us up," he said.
The council will have to decide whether to place a dollar limit on projects eligible for the tax abatement and, if they are eligible, what percent of the project's cost the city will abate.
Tom Deimely, president of Marshall Economic Impact Committee, spoke on behalf of Cohen-Esray. He said the company is prepared to get the renovation underway this year and is prepared to file the IFA application.
"The sooner we could move, the sooner perhaps we see action on the project," he said.
By assessing each project on a case-to-case basis, Deimerly said, the council would have flexibility on which projects it wants to pursue.
Randy Wetmore, city administrator, said being too rigid in establishing the guidelines could close off the council from pursuing desirable projects.
"The flexibility give you a little more control," he said.
With council's decision to move forward, it would have to decide to extend the plan for tax abatement through December 2022 .
Lori Stansberry, finance director, said the engineering department will make available maps of the boundaries of the tax increment finance district and urban revitalization district, which overlap.
Bethany Wirin, at-large council member, said she is in favor of creating a sub-district.
"It looks like we can create it and handle each of these (issues) separately," she said.