Monday, March 31, 2008

Kalahari TIF public hearing

Come one, come all, speak your mind. The city has announced the next public hearing on the Kalahari proposal, and the use of Tax Increment Financing as the legal method for funding any incentives package.

I won't be there at this meeting, so I have to use this space as my platform. I only wish that Kalahari would lower their 10 floor hotel, I think it's going to be visible from the river. I would like them to couple that with building a parking deck to prevent paving acres and acres of beautiful land, and putting up tons of exterior lighting that wipes out what little night sky we have. That's all I ask.

Here are more of the meeting details.

Kalahari wants to come to Fredericksburg, but they need to get some loans from their banks or investors to the tune of about $220 Million. We've all heard about the credit crunch, and if you haven't, you may not be watching the stock market close enough (coming from an owner of Citigroup stock, ouch). Anyway, Kalahari wants to have as much assurance that they can pay back that money. They probably shopped around a little bit along the I-95 corridor, and decided on the Fredericksburg area - hey, we are 1/2 way between DC and Richmond. Well, the lock up the deal, the city and Kalahari went to the negotiating table, and hammered out a deal where a portion of the taxes Kalahari pays to the city will be returned over 20 years. There has been some angst about the 47% portion, but that still leaves 53% for the city. Not to mention that the city doesn't have to pay for all of the infrastructure to get the place up and running - good 'ol Silver Companies is doing that for us. The TIF is simply a way to write this into the city code so that no future government entity can renege on the contract.

Now people are going to come along and say a lot of things, like doesn't this mean we have to build another fire station - it was already in the plans, take a look at the comprehensive plan from several years back. What about police and fire? Nope, those departments have already spoken up about growth - yes they plan to grow, but they are planning that anyway.

Traffic problems? Actually more ballanced traffic, yes it may be heavier during the day around Central Park, but it's not really going to impact rush hour except maybe some Fridays. This will give VDOT more incentive to explore another exit ramp which will help everyone. And I still propose that we don't have a traffic problem per se, but that we have a stoplight problem.

So please read through the presentations that have been given by consultants, our own service departments, Kalahari, and council. You can draw on this data to formulate your own conclusions.

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