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March 10, 2013

City may receive some money for parkway

GREENVILLE — The City of Greenville will be reimbursed for some of the money it spent building the Monty Stratton Parkway project, should property values along the recently opened roadway increase as expected.

The funds will take a while to come in, although City Manager Steve Alexander has an idea of how to use the money.

“It will allow us, sometime in the future, to build the second phase for that project, which is to widen it to four lanes,” Alexander said, during last week’s meeting of the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) Advisory Board.

The seven-member TIRZ board was created in 2009 to make recommendations to the City Council regarding the administration of TIRZ No. 1, which covers approximately 1,900 acres stretching from the Interstate 30 corridor, then north along Wesley Street into and along either end of downtown.

Tax increment reinvestment, also known as tax increment financing, uses a portion of the taxes assessed on increased property values to help repay the investment used to install the infrastructure needed in the zone. The TIRZ pays for public infrastructure improvements, such as water and sewer lines and roads, within the area identified for development.

In other words, as the property value of an area under the TIRZ increases, a portion of the increased property taxes collected from the zone goes back to the developer who installed the infrastructure.

“In this case, the city is the developer,” said David W. Hawes with Hawes Hill Calderon LLP of Houston, the administrator of the TIRZ.

“It will allow the city to be reimbursed for those costs,” Alexander explained.

The Monty Stratton Parkway between Interstate 30 and Lions Lair Road officially opened for traffic at the end of January.

The parkway is two concrete lanes with a raised median and open ditches on either side between the interstate and Lions Lair Road. A sidewalk runs along one side of the roadway and two crossovers were included under the project.

The Britain Chevrolet dealership in Greenville is anticipating relocating to the intersection of Monty Stratton and the Interstate 30 frontage road and a proposed new YMCA/event center — if approved by voters in May — is also targeting a site along Monty Stratton next to the Greenville SportsPark.

The TIRZ plan dedicates $7.8 million toward improvements for commercial projects in and around the Monty Stratton Parkway and $9.9 million for city infrastructure in and near the parkway.

Alexander said when the TIRZ was first established, there were thoughts that a private developer or developers would be paying for the construction of the Monty Stratton Parkway, and would be reimbursed under an agreement with the city.

“But that didn’t happen, so we went ahead and built that road ourselves,” Alexander said, at a cost of $1.77 million.

The City Council is scheduled Tuesday to make the final payment of almost $103,000 to the LH Lacy Company, the contractor on the project.

The TIRZ board voted Thursday to approve an agreement with the city, and Alexander said it would be his recommendation to place the funds as they come in into an account which would be used to pay for widening the Monty Stratton Parkway to four lanes, as had been the original plan.

“But that decision will be up to the City Council,” Alexander said.

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