Redevelopment within the Montclaire Business District was approved with a 5-2 vote at last week’s Edwardsville City Council meeting.
Aldermen Barb Stamer, Tom Butts, Art Risavy, Jeanette Mallon and Will Krause were in favor of the motion; aldermen Craig Louer and Janet Stack were opposed.
The approved resolution authorizes an agreement for the city to encourage redevelopment and renovations in the district, anticipating a cost of $2.2 million. The improvements will include new facades on buildings, rotomill and resurfacing of the parking lot, retaining wall by the Rapid Lube building, rear screening, landscaping, lighting upgrades and storm water drainage improvements.
The developer, Jones Edwardsville Properties, has requested reimbursement from the city in the amount of $1,393,566 after the improvements have been made.
As discussion ensued, Louer said he was opposed to the resolution, as he was concerned about surrounding neighbors and taxpayers.
“If we were to do it, which I hope we don’t, I’d like to see a commitment to all parts of that project. With regard to the estimated costs…what we’re doing is taxing the people to shop there; we’re taxing our citizens to make improvements to private property. In some instances, I think I can justify it in my mind and those instances are instances where we’re asking a developer to go over and above what he would normally have to do in order to provide some extra protection or some amenities for our neighbors — one of those is a wall,” Louer said. “When you get to the façade for buildings, I look at those as investments that an owner should make on his own property. I want higher rent for a house I own, I clean it up and I get higher rent for it…I think it’s inappropriate for us to tax citizens to support the improvements on private property. I think that’s the owner’s responsibility.”
The city has no direct financial obligation with the developer and the costs that will be reimbursed must be eligible through the collection of business district taxes. Taxpayers who shop at the facility will also face a 1 percent Business District Tax.
“I can’t support it,” Louer said. “This is $1.3 million that we are going to tax our citizens and we are going to use approximately $600,000 of to improve private property. As I’ve said before, I’d be willing to vote for this if we limited the cost to the things that I think we’re asking for over and above.”
Butts was in favor of the motion and said he believes this is the best way to get the needed improvements completed.
“I think this is our best hope to get that blighted area. To the question of would we allow it for somebody else who wanted to come in and form a business district? I think we’d give it the same consideration we gave this – absolutely. We did it for Dierbergs,” Butts said. “This does not cost the city anything; it does cost our taxpayers who shop there an additional 1 percent. We had the same thing at Dierbergs. Dierbergs has been a huge success. If we can increase more sales, that’s more sales tax that the city gets as well.”
The additional Business District Tax, according to Butts, will not have a significant impact on the taxpayers who utilize the district.
“All the risk is on the developer. If he doesn’t have sales, if he doesn’t have tenants, if he doesn’t have people going to the cash register, he does not get his money back. I think it is not corporate welfare; I do not think we are putting a burden on our citizens. If they don’t want to shop there, they don’t have to shop there,” he said.
Discussion came to a close and the resolution passed.
For more information about the Montclaire Business District, visit the city’s website at cityofedwardsville.com.