Businessman: More TIF funds needed to redevelop old Belleville YMCA

News-DemocratApril 18, 2013 

— A Swansea businessman on Thursday asked city officials for an additional $90,000 in tax increment financing funds to redevelop the former YMCA building.

Kurt Artinger, founder and chief executive officer of Replacement Services LLC, told members of the Economic Development & Annexation Committee that the final project cost increased from an estimated $730,000 to $978,000.

Artinger said bids were higher than expected for work needed to rehabilitate the vacant, deteriorating historic building at 15 N. First St., site of the original Belleville Turner Hall.

Before Artinger can move his Swansea business and 36 employees to the site, work must be done to replace the roof, address mold and asbestos issues, and install an elevator and lift to meet American with Disabilities Act standards.

Five of eight aldermen from the Economic Development committee attended the meeting on Thursday. They discussed Artinger's request for less than 20 minutes before unanimously voting to forward the proposal to the full City Council for approval.

The City Council will vote on the amended development agreement at a special City Council meeting set for April 29.

The proposed changes to the agreement approved in March are:

* Artinger will give an additional $124,000 more to the project, bringing the total of his personal investment from $500,000 on the first phase to $624,000.

*The city will increase the amount allowed on sales tax abatement for building materials from $20,000 to $34,000.

* The city will increase the amount given out from TIF District No. 1 from $210,000 to $300,000. The money will be used specifically to replace the roof and for asbestos and mold remediation. The $90,000 increase will be reimbursed to Artinger over two years to install an elevator and lift.

* The remaining $20,000 needed for the project will come in the form of energy credits from Ameren and the state of Illinois.

Mayor Mark Eckert said even with the additional funding, the city still comes out ahead because the project will bring more jobs downtown, save a historic building and put the building back on the tax rolls.

And, otherwise, the city would have to deal with demolishing the building, Eckert said. Eckert also said he is not surprised with the hurdles Artinger is facing because he knows the condition the building is in.

Artinger said it was not his intent to ask the city for more incentives. An exhaustive search by city staff for grants and other funding sources found that the project was either too small or large in scope to qualify, Artinger said.

Artinger said any overages beyond the issues discussed Thursday would be his responsibility.

The main concern that could jeopardize the project at this point is if the appraisal is less than the expected $750,000 because that affects the bank's financing offer, Artinger said.

"I'm pretty confident we're going to hit it right at the number we need to," Artinger told the committee.

Per the agreement, the city still plans to sell the building to Artinger and Colee LLC for $1, which is what the city paid for the building, and the company would have to stay at the site for six years.

The first phase will bring 13,000 square feet of the facility up to code within nine months so his company, which works on lost and stolen jewelry insurance claims, can move into the building.

Another 5,000 square feet is reserved for a business incubator program.

Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at jlee@bnd.com or 239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/BNDBelleville.

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