South Bend Business Districts, Parks Could Be Eligible For New Funding

2019-05-13 | South Bend Tribune

May 14-- May 14--SOUTH BEND -- The Potawatomi Zoo and Leeper Park, along with the Mishawaka, Miami and Portage avenue business districts, are among the areas that could become newly eligible for tax incremental financing dollars under a resolution approved unanimously Monday night by the city's common council.

The changes came in a realignment of TIF district boundaries -- to reflect some recent annexations and create new funding sources for improvements to commercial corridors and parks -- that the city's common council unanimously approved at the request of the Mayor Pete Buttigieg administration. It was the first such TIF boundary changes in five years.

In a TIF district, property taxes levied on the growth in assessed value in an area are captured and spent on infrastructure, such as new roads and sewers, aimed at fostering more economic development within that area.

Last year the city added the Western Avenue and Lincoln Way West corridors to TIF districts as a way to pay for planned streetscape improvements there. Those improvements have been so well-received that the administration decided to also bring the Mishawaka, Miami and Portage avenue business areas, plus Linden Street on the west side, into TIF districts, said city planning director Tim Corcoran.

Corcoran noted that no projects are yet planned for those four areas.

"This just puts them into the TIF until the TIF ends just so that if there are things that happen five years from now, there's another funding source for those things that doesn't exist today," Corcoran said.

Dave Nufer, vice-president of the River Park Business Association, said he welcomes the move.

"I've been arguing for a TIF district in River Park and Mishawaka Avenue for 10 or 12 years," said Nufer, owner of Burton's Laundry. "I think it's a great asset that the city council and the redevelopment commission can utilize, so I'm all in favor ... we're all onboard."

The city presented the changes at public meetings at the St. Joseph County Public Library's River Park branch March 27 and Charles Martin Youth Center April 2. The changes must receive final approval from the redevelopment commission, where it's set for a public hearing and vote on June 13.

Other highlights of the TIF boundary changes:

* The former Drewry's site already is included in a TIF district, but some areas near it also would be added: Muessel Grove Park and some businesses along Portage Avenue north of Elwood Avenue.

* Leeper Park and the zoo would be added to TIF areas but they have improvement projects that are already funded with money from bond issues. But any future projects could be eligible for TIF money.

* In the commercial corridors, the TIF districts would add only properties on the street, typically stretching back to alleys that run parallel to the street.

* Two recently annexed commercial sites would be added: The South Bend Chocolate Co.'s planned factory and museum project southwest of U.S. 20 and the U.S. 31 bypass, and a potential industrial area northeast of the bypass and Indiana 23, across from Four Winds South Bend casino.

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