Kentucky Capital Development Corp. has joined a growing list of business organizations that have signed a letter in support of creating a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district to facilitate the development of the former Capital Plaza land known as Parcels B and C.
“Our number one focus is getting the TIF approved,” said Downtown Frankfort Inc. President Rene’ True, adding that the letter has been signed by the Frankfort Area Chamber of Commerce, the Frankfort-Franklin County Tourist and Convention Commission, DFI, the Restaurant and Bar Association and the Merchant Group and will be sent to city and county elected leaders and shared with The State Journal.
The city and county are exploring the TIF as a way to fund the public portion of the downtown development project, which includes a parking garage mandated by the state when the property was sold. Hazard developer Marty Johnson, who formed a company called New Frankfort Development LLC to purchase the land formerly occupied by the Frankfort Convention Center and adjacent infrastructure, proposes mixed-use commercial and retail, as well as a new YMCA.
Under a TIF, a percentage of the money the city and county take in from increased property, sales and occupational tax revenues would be paid back to the developers in order to pay for public infrastructure, including the parking garage, sidewalks and an extension of Washington Street.
Current projections are that redeveloped Parcels B and C would generate roughly $30 million in tax revenues in 20 years between the county and the city.
While exact numbers for the project have yet to be finalized, KCDC Vice Chair Houston Barber, who is also superintendent of Frankfort Independent Schools, was hesitant to vote in favor of the letter because the school district’s financial advisers are currently reviewing the details.
“You’re voting on a general concept supporting a TIF to get this development done, which, quite frankly, I don’t think is going to happen without some kind of TIF in place,” True said. “It’s going to sit vacant for the next couple decades if we don’t do something as a community.”
Barber said that even though he was not ready to speak for FIS, as a KCDC board member he is in favor of TIF.
“I fully back the opportunity to have TIF; I’m just saying I don’t want to rush through without having every single detail laid out,” he added before the board unanimously OK’d having KCDC Chair Danny Willis sign the letter.
True, who is also filling the role of DFI interim executive director following the resignation of Glenn Waldrop earlier this month, also discussed the possibility of the two organizations working together in the future with a focus on downtown properties.
“I love this idea. From my perspective the more coherence we have for our economic development in Frankfort and Franklin County, the better off we’ll be,” Barber said.
KCDC Treasurer Zachary Horn agreed, adding that if the city and county continue to cut the budgets of DFI and KCDC the organizations might not be able to afford to operate as separate entities.
“I think it’s prudent we start those conversations about working together,” he said. “Nobody knows what the economy is going to look like in the next five years or 10 years.”
True said the risks of the partnership is that elected leaders will see it as an efficiency move and cut funding even further. But that is not the intention of working together.
“I think it can only be a plus,” Willis said.