The Belleville City Council on Monday night approved a redevelopment agreement for the renovation of the Shopland Plaza on West Main Street.
The agreement is with Dennis Lavery, who has owned the Ace Hardware at 6938 W. Main St. for nearly 30 years.
Money for the Shopland tax incentive would come from an extra 1 percent sales tax shoppers would pay in the shopping center at the intersection of Foley Drive and West Main and 70th streets. Shoppers currently pay an 8.1 percent sales tax in the center.
The amount of the tax incentive is based on sales at businesses in the shopping center and is capped at $2.25 million. Lavery estimates the sales tax rebate would be about $851,000 over a 23-year period. He expects to initially invest $1.4 million to purchase and renovate the site.
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Raising taxes is what I have a problem with and business districts raise taxes.
Ward 2 Alderman Mike Buettner, who voted against the Shopland plan
Ace Hardware and Jefferson’s Restaurant are the only two businesses in the shopping center, which has several vacancies.
“Our hope is that we fill the areas that have been vacant for the past 10 years as the result of a fire,” Lavery said. “We’re hoping to fill that back with active tenants that generate sales tax revenue that generates services for the community and generally makes the west end of Belleville a better place to live.”
Lavery said the renovations include a new sign, a repaved parking lot, security cameras and new lighting. He also plans to open a garden center late next summer and expand the Ace showroom by 2,000 square feet and the warehouse by 400 square feet.
This is the second westside shopping center to be targeted for renovation as part of a redevelopment agreement with the city. Earlier this year, the city granted tax incentives for the redevelopment of the Market Place Shopping Center, where 4204 Main Street Brewing Co. is building a new brewery in the old Mad Pricer grocery store at 64th and West Main streets.
The City Council voted 15-1 for the redevelopment plan.
To clear the way for the redevelopment agreement, the City Council on Monday also approved an ordinance creating a business district that allows the sales tax to be collected and forwarded to Lavery.
If people don’t choose to shop there, they don’t pay the tax. We are not giving anything that is upfront.
Mayor Mark Eckert
Mayor Mark Eckert noted this is the seventh business district in the city.
“If people don’t choose to shop there, they don’t pay the tax,” Eckert said. “We are not giving anything that is upfront.”
Ward 2 Alderman Mike Buettner cast the lone “no” vote. “Raising taxes is what I have a problem with and business districts raise taxes,” Buettner said. “It’s not being negative, it’s a different point of view.”
Ward 8 Alderman Roger Wigginton, who owns a clothing store near Ace on West Main Street, said the improvements at Shopland and Market Place can be a “model” for other shopping centers in the city.
“These will be revenue-generating strip centers,” Wigginton said. “We all know we have way too many old and blighted, outdated strip centers in the city.”
The extra sales tax will go into effect on July 1.
Lavery must pay the city $30,000, which is what the city paid to give St. Louis-based Economic Development Resources for a study that says the shopping center meets the state’s definition of “blighted.”