ST. JOSEPH — Two tax incentive packages for commercial rehabilitation projects are on hold while St. Joseph city commissioners take more time to study the proposals.
Commissioners on Monday were asked to consider approving Commercial Rehabilitation Exemption certificates for United Federal Credit Union, which wants to refurbish an office building at 150 Hilltop Road, and for Fiskars Properties, which wants to revamp space at 500 Momany Drive. If approved, the certificates would freeze the taxes at the current property value for the next 10 years.
Rob Cleveland, president of Cornerstone Alliance, told commissioners that United Federal Credit Union has purchased the building from Whirlpool Corp. and plans to invest $9.6 million and create 106 new jobs, and retain 300 current positions.
Cleveland also presented additional information on the potential economic impact of the project, prepared by the independent firm Implan. Commissioners earlier this year had requested more complete information when tax abatement requests are made.
According to the study, the project will create another 109 jobs in the community, with new labor income at $17.6 million and total economic output of $52.1 million in direct spending, business-to-business spending and household spending by employees, Cleveland said.
The project also is expected to generate 74 construction jobs.
United Federal Credit Union has the opportunity to go anywhere in the country, Cleveland said in defense of the request. He also said it would be catastrophic to lose 300 jobs here.
Commissioner Peggy Getty said she had not received the information on the tax incentives until the day before, and had not had time to review the material. Commissioner Laura Goos also said she had been delayed in looking over the package.
“To make a decision would not be respectful,” Goos said.
Commissioner Lynn Todman said she had looked over the information, but did not want to go ahead if fellow commissioners needed more time. Commissioner Jeff Richards said he had thoroughly studied the packet and was ready to vote. Richards and Garey voted against a motion to table the incentive requests, with Goos, Getty and Todman voting to consider them at the June 24 meeting.
Commissioners also tabled the request from Fiskars, which plans to invest $1 million in the building on Momany Drive, which was built in 2000.
Commissioners did approve United Federal Credit Union’s request to place a single-lane ATM on the west side of the Hilltop Road property. Architect Jerry Mortier said that side of the building was selected because there are twice as many employee parking spaces on the east side.
Elena Oelke, who owns property to the west of the UFCU site, objected to the ATM, saying it would add traffic, noise and accidents at the intersection of Hilltop and Lakeshore Boulevard. She presented a U.S. Department of Justice study that she said stated that ATMs attract theft and vandalism.
A United Federal Credit Union executive said there have been some thefts at their ATMs.
St. Joseph Engineer Tim Zebell said there have been only five accidents at the intersection, which he said is a low number. Public Safety Director Steve Neubecker said that, in his 25 years on the force, he could not recall a robbery at a St. Joseph ATM.
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