State Panel Considers New CentrePointe TIF, Approves Incentives for New Area Jobs

Frankfort, KY – New incentives are under consideration for the long-awaited CentrePointe development.

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority met Thursday to consider an impact report on tax increment financing (TIF) for a redesigned CentrePointe, a mixed-use development in the core of Lexington’s downtown.

The group met in a closed special session to discuss the findings of the report. Its details were not maybe public by the board, which is its protocol. After the meeting, CentrePointe consultant John Farris, president of Commonwealth Economics, confirmed the group discussed a CentrePointe TIF.

“There’s a necessary process that we have to go through, and this was one of the steps that gets us closer,” Farris said. “Our goal is to have final approval from the state in July.”

Farris, who was accompanied in the closed meeting by CentrePointe developer Dudley Webb, said the findings of the report by the Chicago office of the Los Angeles-based AECOM, will be presented to Lexington’s Urban County Council in the next couple of weeks.

Farris said he was pleased with the findings of the report, which AECOM associate Kimberly Gester said could become public soon.

“If the city decides to release it, it is up to them. In the past Lexington has decided to release its TIF reports,” she told Business Lexington following the closed-door meeting

Originally announced in March of 2008, CentrePointe has gone through many incarnations, all based around a large hotel and residential presence with some commercial and retail space to be included around the street level. Demolition of the block meant to house the project commenced in the summer of 2008, but no further construction occurred as the nation’s economic crisis took hold.

The most recent set of plans for the block show separate buildings spaced around the block rather than one large building with a center tower, as was the original plan. In May, Cincinnati restaurateur Jeff Ruby said he would open a steakhouse on the now empty block in Lexington’s downtown in May of 2015. At the time, Webb said there was still work ahead, including TIF approval, before any potential tenants could be officially announced.

The TIF incentives CentrePointe is after allows developers to recoup certain expenses in the construction of large-scale developments. The scope required of those developments has been lowered since the state originally approved TIFs in the 2007 General Assembly. The law – designed by Farris who served at the time as the state’s Finance and Administration Secretary under Gov. Ernie Fletcher – originally required a $200 million investment by developers. This year the legislature dropped it to a $150 million threshold, with that change taking effect Tuesday.

With the TIF, a district is designated and developers are eligible to capture local and state tax revenues above what is currently being generated within the district’s boundaries. While those newly generated tax dollars — from greater property values, increases in the amount of sales, corporate income and personal income taxes — in the district would normally head to state and local coffers for general distribution, all of the newly generated money would be returned for specified improvements in the outlined district.

In other public business, the economic development board improved incentives for local expansions by engineering company Stantec, Brown-Forman’s Woodford Reserve Distillery and Toyota.

Stantec to Bring 30 New Jobs to Lexington
According to documents released by the Economic Development Cabinet, Stantec is looking to consolidate its two Lexington offices, one on North Forbes and another on East Vine into one location in addition to adding 30 “engineers and/or scientists and support staff.”

The jobs would reportedly come with compensation of $50 an hour on average including benefits and be phased in over seven years. The state documents show Stantec would plan to add 20 of the jobs within the first year.

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