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The State Journal- Register (Springfield, IL)
The Springfield City Council unanimously approved one of the largest tax increment financing requests in the city's history Tuesday night by authorizing the YMCA to use $5.9 million from two TIF districts for its new $35.7 million location in Enos Park.
It will also be one of the first times the city will authorize "porting," when a project in one TIF district draws down funds from an adjoining district. In this case, the new Y would be in the 300 block of East Carpenter Street, landing it in the Enos Park TIF. However, the Enos Park TIF expires in 2020, so the city has also set a schedule for the project to be reimbursed equally from the Central Area TIF, which is known as the downtown TIF, as well. About $250,000 will remain annually for other TIF projects in the Enos Park district.
"There's no dividing wall where it's just going to help the Enos Park area," Mayor Jim Langfelder said. "It's going to transcend the downtown area and help that area."
The new YMCA would be two levels and cover 87,500 square feet. The project is estimated to cost about $35 million.
If the Y didn't have the $5.9 million in TIF funds, the project likely wouldn't happen, according to Springfield YMCA CEO Angie Sowle.
"The more traction we get, the more community support we will get," Sowle said. "I don't see this project coming to fruition without this."
Before the YMCA can access any of the money, it will need to have all of the project's financing in order, Sowle said.
So far, Memorial Medical Center has pledged $9 million. Sowle said the YMCA is also hoping to qualify for at least $2.5 million in new market tax credits, raise $7 million in philanthropic gifts and get the rest of the financing through banks.
All of the council members voted for the TIF request. Some hoped the project would be "transformational" for the neighborhood.
Ward 6 Ald. Kristin DiCenso said that though she is supportive of the project, she noted that in the past, council members have said they didn't want to give TIF funds to projects that don't generate increased property taxes. Since the YMCA is a nonprofit, it doesn't pay property taxes.
Development doesn't necessarily guarantee more of the kind of growth council members want to see, either, she added.
"Just because we build something doesn't mean the things around it are going to be as cool as the initial thing," DiCenso said.
Sowle said the Y can't predict what will happen if it relocates to the Enos Park neighborhood. A new location could mean the YMCA adds another 50 jobs to its more than 500 part-timers and full-time employees.
'I think the more good things that come there, the more good things that will come there," Sowle said. "... We certainly have no control over who our neighbors are going to be, but we do hope this will transform that community as well as the entire medical district and the downtown."
According to the redevelopment contract between the city and the Y, construction is expected to start this fall and be completed by the end of 2020. The Y can only access the first installment of $1.5 million in TIF funds to reimburse project costs in August 2019. It promised to maintain and occupy the building for no less than 25 years, according to the agreement.
The current downtown YMCA building at 701 S. Fourth St. is expected to be torn down for about $1.4 million and is considered part of the overall project cost. Langfelder has said he would like to see the land be used by the Dana-Thomas House Foundation for more parking or a new visitor's center.
Contact Crystal Thomas: 788-1528, email@example.com, twitter.com/crystalclear224.
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