Vienna starts TIF project at Grand Central Mall

VIENNA — Vienna City Council Thursday night unanimously voted to start the process of developing a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district around the Grand Central Mall.

“The resolution says that we will begin looking at and working with the Washington Prime LLC to see if the TIF is even feasible,” said Russell Skogstad, Vienna city attorney.

Washington Prime representative Nicole Kennedy said the project to demolish the former Sears building at Grand Central Mall will cost $20 million, not including what the new tenants will put into the property.

“It is incredibly expensive to tear down Sears,” Kennedy said.

“Washington Prime will front the funds; the TIF is for a reimbursement of $2.8 million,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy said the reimbursement only happens if the property generates the funds.

“If the project fails, it is on us and not on the city,” she said.

Skogstad said, “The taxes paid to city, county or wherever will stay at the present level. The money being used to finance the project will only come if the project increases the value of the TIF district to a higher number.

So instead of the increased amount also going to the city, county or whomever, it would go toward the $2.8 million in reimbursement for the project,” Skogstad said.

“If the property value goes down for whatever reason, the city does not lose any of that revenue,” Skogstad said.

“The next step for the TIF is to create an application for creating the TIF district that will be submitted to all the levying bodies that would be receiving property tax from the proposed area, 30 days before a public hearing,” said Mark Imbrogno, representative of the JacksonKelly PLLC insurance agency, working with Washington Prime.

“Following the public hearing, the city can determine if they are comfortable with proceeding with that application and if so, submit the application to the State Development Office within the Department of Commerce for their approval,” Imbrogno said.

The TIF district would be terminated as soon as the $2.8 million is fulfilled.

Other council discussions:

* April has been designated Civitan Awareness Month. “In honor of their hard work to make the community of Vienna a better place, and their promotion of good citizenship in everything they do,” said Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp.

* April 26 is designated as Arbor Day for the city of Vienna. The city will be celebrating at 10 a.m. in Jackson Park by planting a tree; everyone is invited to help with the tree planting.

* Council unanimously passed the bid for $25,680 to repair the wildlife dam at McDonough Park. The area in discussion was previously dammed, but it broke a few years ago and the Parks Department has been unable to repair it.

“Without the dam, all the water is washed out instead of filling up the marsh area, leaving us with one less pond,” Tommy Dawson, lead worker at McDonough Park, previously said.

* An Easter luncheon will be held at the senior citizen center today at noon.

* Council went into an executive session with Stephanie Broffman, the Vienna human resources director, that began at 7:57 p.m. and ended at 8:57 p.m. The session was discussion only and no decisions were made.