The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, October 15, 2019 1:00 am

Expanded TIF districts get final OK

2 areas approved for downtown development

DAVE GONG | For The Journal Gazette

The Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission on Monday granted final approval to proposed expansions of two tax increment financing districts that officials say will aid new developments planned for downtown. 

The commission also approved a land transfer for Duck Street and a nearby park strip to the north of the planned Lofts at Headwaters Park project. 

The first district expanded Monday is the Jefferson-Illinois Road Redevelopment Project Area and Economic Development Area. 

It includes the Jefferson Pointe and Apple Glen shopping centers, extends downtown on Jefferson and Washington boulevards to Harrison Square, Parkview Field and several properties south of the ballpark.

TIF districts are created to capture property tax income from new developments for use in public improvements within the district. 

After Monday's approval, the TIF district will now include Cityscape Flats, the nearby Shell gas station and the planned site of the new Ruoff Home Mortgage building at West Jefferson Boulevard and Ewing Street.

It's the fourth time that TIF district has been amended, Community Development's Joe Giant told the commission. 

The Redevelopment Commission gave preliminary approval for the expansion in August, followed by the Plan Commission a week later. City Council approved the expansion in September. Monday's vote was the last step in the process, Giant said. 

“We see it as a very strategic location for commercial developments,” Giant said, noting that the site is on a major corridor into downtown. 

The second expanded district is the Civic Center Redevelopment Project Area and Urban Renewal Area. That district, which has been amended 12 times, encompasses a variety of properties in downtown Fort Wayne, including many properties between Berry and Wayne streets from Webster Street to Lafayette Street.

The TIF district also includes Citizens Square, as well as Rousseau Centre and its attached parking garage.  

The expansion approved Monday adds the site of the planned Lofts at Headwaters Park, Don Hall's Gas House, the Wayne Township trustee's office and the nearby arts campus, Giant said. 

The Redevelopment Commission gave preliminary approval for this expansion in March, followed by the Plan Commission in April. City Council approved the expansion in June, but city officials decided to wait before making the move official, Giant said.

“We wanted to be relatively sure that we weren't creating this speculatively – we wanted to feel good about the prospects of the development – so we held off on this stuff for a while,” Giant said. 

City Councilman Jason Arp, who is the council's appointee to the Redevelopment Commission, was the sole Redevelopment Commission member to vote against both TIF expansions.

He typically votes against new and expanded TIF districts.

In other business, the Redevelopment Commission unanimously approved two intergovernmental property transfers for Duck Street and the attached landscaping bed on the north side of the street.

The landscaping bed, which is 8 feet wide by 350 feet long, was owned by the city Parks Department, but following Monday's approval now resides with the Redevelopment Commission. The Park Board approved the transfer during its August meeting.

Duck Street is owned by the city, but if the City Council approves the property transfer, it will be owned by the Redevelopment Commission.

It's not yet clear when that transfer will go before the council for approval.

Allowing the Redevelopment Commission to acquire both pieces of property was a necessary step in the Lofts at Headwaters Park development.

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