New future envisioned

Monday, November 04, 2019

Main News Photo

Bill Shea

The Crossroads Mall in Fort Dodge will be torn down and replaced with a series of smaller stores, an office building and a hotel under a plan unveiled by an Ankeny developer.

The project will take several years to complete, but the former Sears store at the mall may be demolished by the end of this year.

That plan is the vision of Crossroads Plaza Development LLC. That firm is in the process of buying both the mall and the old Sears store, which is actually a separate property with a different owner.

In August, city officials revealed that a developer had made an offer to buy the mall from its current owners, Namdar Realty Group, Mason Asset Management and CH Capital, all of Great Neck, New York.

That developer, Crossroads Plaza Development LLC, is now ready to close the deal, but to do so it needs some help from the city government.

During a special meeting Wednesday, the City Council will consider a resolution of intent to support the project. It will also start the lengthy process of using tax increment financing to give the developer up to $10 million to reimburse it for buying the property and demolishing the buildings.

A maximum of $18.2 million could be given to the developer over the course of the project.

City Manager David Fierke said the project would be impossible without help from the local government.

“The city’s got to come in and make this thing work,” he said.

All of the money for the developer would come from tax increment financing, often called TIF. Tax increment financing occurs when increased property tax revenue from an existing area is set aside to be reinvested in that area. That means the financial aid being considered for the mall site will not come from the general fund that pays for essential services like police and fire protection. It also will not cause residents’ property taxes to rise.

In September, the council made the site eligible for TIF by adding it to the Center City and Industrial Park Urban Renewal Area.

Mayor Matt Bemrich said he believes the proposal for the mall is exactly the type of project that state legislators envisioned when they wrote the law allowing TIF to be used for urban renewal. He said the TIF money will be used to acquire the property and tear down the buildings, which clears the way for a project that will create new tax base. That new tax base, he said, will facilitate the financing of the acquisition and demolition.

Full article.

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