Innovation Developers ask city to approve “TIF” Bonds

By: Ashley Harding

They're calling it “TIF” Bonds and if approved, they would help get the project rolling to redevelop areas in the city. A public hearing was held today and while the developers say this is the way to go, others aren't so sure.

The dream of an Innovation Campus on the Old State Fairgrounds is getting closer to becoming a reality. But to be able to move forward with phase one of the project, some things need to be worked out.

That's why Innovation Campus developers have asked the city to approve “TIF” Bonds worth nearly $11 million. Under this, infrastructure like streets and sewers would be covered, plus, two historic buildings would be renovated.

“The project couldn't happen without it. Just for the main fact that these roads will be dedicated to the city. They will be city maintained and owned roads,” said Zach Wiegert, a developer.

But not everyone agrees. Some who testified during a public hearing say there's no guarantee the project will be a success. Others say it shouldn't be left to the city.

“City-wise, I think the city should spend it here and let developers develop it themselves,” said Brad Carper of Lincoln.

The developers say the “TIF” bonds will be repaid through the additional property taxes generated as a result of the building renovations and new buildings.

Despite some reservations held by the city residents, the developers say their strategy will have big payout in the end. “They think that we're the people to help make it happen from a real estate standpoint. We're all going to move forward. I think it would be a very successful project,” said Wiegert.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on this at their July 9th meeting. If approved, work on phase one could begin in the Fall.