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Tax abatements are being requested for College Town International LLC’s planned Springfield student housing development.
Rendering provided by Hollis and Miller Architects Inc.
Tax abatements are being requested for College Town International LLC’s planned Springfield student housing development.

Council considers tax abatements for $50M project

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Springfield City Council last night held a first reading on a redevelopment plan that includes tax abatements for a $50 million downtown student housing project.

Los Angeles-based College Town International LLC is seeking a 15-year tax abatement status, said Springfield Director of Economic Development Sarah Kerner, who addressed council about the plans. She said the plan calls for a 100% abatement on new improvements during the first 10 years, as well as a request to freeze the value of the land, and for the final five years, an abatement for 50% of the total assessed value of the property.

Springfield Business Journal was first to report last month on College Town International’s plans for a five-story, over 190-unit student housing development at the site of the former Arbor motel at 505 St. Louis St. Dan Weinstein, managing partner of College Town International, previously told SBJ the abatement status is key to the company’s Springfield plans.

College Town International’s application to the city included a blight report, redevelopment plan, and a tax impact and but-for analysis, Kerner said last night.

“This is similar but not identical to Chapter 99s, which you see quite more frequently,” she said of the plan that’s covered under Chapter 353 in state statute.

Steve Papa, co-developer on the project, told council leases would run for 12 months. The units would range from $840 for a one-bedroom unit to $2,560 for a four-bedroom unit, said Spencer Fane LLP partner Shawn Whitney, who is legal counsel for the developer. Kansas City-based architectural firm The Hollis & Miller Group Inc. is collaborating with H Design Group LLC on the project.

Officials said a 171-space parking garage would be constructed on the lower level of the building, but the lack of parking for each unit was a concern from others in attendance at the council meeting.

Councilman Abe McGull voiced concerns about already limited parking downtown. Currently, Center City zoning does not require parking, said Director of Planning and Development Mary Lilly Smith.

Tim Roth, president of the Greater Springfield Apartment and Housing Association, said a 2,700-unit survey showed an 84% occupancy rate among apartments in Springfield. He also was concerned about limited downtown parking and said he was opposed to the current plan.

“If we look at passing this without knowing for sure where this parking is coming from … it’s a mistake,” he told council.

The association represents about 10,000 units in Springfield, Roth said.

Papa said off-site arrangements are in the works for additional spaces.

“We’ve been meeting with private as well as industrial people in the area,” he said. “Recently, we have completed an agreement with a group that will provide the additional 450 parking spaces we need.”

Council is scheduled to vote on the plan Nov. 4.

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