News Column

Progress coming at Tuscany Village

June 1, 2014

By Clinton Thomas, St. Joseph News-Press, Mo.

June 01--A long-dormant chunk of commercial real estate may soon show signs of life on the northern edge of St. Joseph.

Developers representing Tuscany Village have submitted a site plan for review by the Planning Commission at its June meeting.

Tuscany was approved in 2005 for a roughly $21 million tax increment financing (TIF) district to construct a retail development at the southeast corner of the intersection of Interstate 29 and U.S. Highway 169.

TIF is a financial incentive designed to help developers revitalize blighted properties. TIF takes the tax increase that results from higher property values and uses it to pay for infrastructure related to the development instead of giving it to local taxing jurisdictions such as the city, county, schools and libraries.

Despite the incentive, no substantial work occurred in the past nine years at Tuscany, aside from the construction of several retaining walls.

Clint Thompson, director of planning and community development for the city, said the development's lack of progress should not necessarily be viewed in a negative light. He compared Tuscany to another retail project, The Commons, which recently entered bankruptcy after it failed to grow as planned on the south edge of St. Joseph.

At The Commons, developers spent money to build streets and other infrastructure before securing tenants, while Tuscany developers decided not to make such investments during a recession that had put a damper on retail growth.

"Yes, this project has been dormant," Mr. Thompson said. "But to their credit, the city has not expended any funds and the developers have not asked for any funds from us."

Developers must start work by September 2015 in order to "activate" the TIF. Mr. Thompson said the plat the Planning Commission will review is the same as one filed earlier, which means it will not have to go to the TIF Commission for approval.

"They originally submitted a preliminary plat, but that obviously has expired, so they have to file again," Mr. Thompson said.

Mr. Thompson declined to say if the new filing meant Tuscany had secured an anchor tenant.

Scott Hausman, a developer with Tuscany Village, was not available for comment.

Clinton Thomas can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPThomas.


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Source: St. Joseph News-Press (MO)

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