City council approves Broadway Hotel TIF, ignores commission vote against it

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COLUMBIA - The Broadway Hotel's proposal for a $2 million tax break to fund a second tower passed with the super majority it needed at Monday's Columbia City Council meeting.

The hotel's owner, David Parmley, submitted a TIF, or tax increment financing, proposal to the city in April to fund the construction of a second tower next to the first. Parmley expects the project to cost more than $20 million.

The TIF will temporarily freeze property taxes and divert them back into the project's development. The freeze will last for 23 years, so property taxes for the hotel should not increase for this time with any inflation that may occur.

The city's TIF Commission voted 8-3 against a recommendation to pass the TIF in October. Columbia Public Schools will be one of the various taxing bodies affected by the TIF if it passes. Two members of the commission, Helen Wade and Christine King, are also members of Columbia Public Schools' Board of Education, and they both voted against the recommendation.

Parmley said the distribution of taxes through the proposal should not be an issue.

"Not a single dime of existing taxpayer money is ever touched, and the only money ever paid back over a period of 23 years, as a stream of payments, is money that I'm actually creating and generating," Parmley said. "I pay the money to the county taxes and a portion of that comes back to me each year."

The proposed site, which Parmley currently rents, had to be considered a conservation area under TIF criteria. Meaning, the site did not have to be blighted, but it had to be considered a hazard to public health and safety morals and at risk of becoming blighted. Parmley's attorney, Robert Hollis, told the council and the TIF Commission that steep slopes of the property's current layout are dangerous to drivers and pedestrians on Walnut Street, among other health issues with the lot.

"It is vacant and unoccupied, and it has become a very popular spot for dog excrement," Hollis said. "There's also a great deal of loitering because it is an unoccupied space. People are there at odd hours playing music loudly. There are used prophylactics found on a regular basis and empty alcohol containers are found on the site as well."

King said the litter does not make the property blighted since someone can pick it up.

The council approved the proposal 5-2. Third ward council member Karl Skala said at the meeting he initially intended to vote against the proposal, but he ended up being the final vote to approve it.

The second tower will be built at 1104 E. Walnut. Parmley does not own the property but plans to purchase it by January 2018. Plans for the second tower include seven stories of 80 rooms total, as well as tripling the current meeting space and adding a 6,000 square foot rooftop ballroom. The council granted a TIF to Parmley for development of the first Broadway Hotel tower in 2014.