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Published: Thursday, 5/25/2006

Levis may get 2 special-tax areas

BY ELIZABETH A. SHACK
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The city of Perrysburg is considering establishing special assessment areas for two new parts of Levis Commons to help pay for improvements to the streetscape.

The districts covering the Town Square and Preston Place sections of the retail development would be the first in the city if approved by council at its June 6 meeting.

The districts would speed up work on public improvements such as parking, landscaping, and walkways.

That should increase the value of the projects and create faster payments on the existing tax increment financing agreement, representatives from the developer, Dillin Corp., have told council's economic development committee.

Projects paid for within the special assessment districts were not included in the tax incentive agreement.

Tom Mackin, chairman of the economic development committee, said the districts are designed to help attract better tenants to the project.

Retailers will be selected some time after the districts are approved, Rick Thielen, the city's planning, zoning, and economic development director, told council.

"It's a marketing tool," he said.

The Town Square, an extension of the existing Town Center near State Rt. 25 and Roachton Road, includes a hotel and conference center and ground-level stores with residential space on upper floors. Some parts of the Town Square do not yet have a defined use.

Preston Place, at the southeast corner of the development, is being designed for neighborhood-oriented shops like pizza places, delis, or florists.

If the special assessment districts are approved, the city would lease the property for public improvements from Dillin Corp. The land would then be immediately subleased to the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. Both the lease and the sublease would run for 40 years.

The port authority would issue bonds to fund the public improvements.

Port authority finance director Jerry Arkebauer told the council committee that there is no risk to the city.

The port authority has been involved in a similar project, Crocker Park, in Westlake, Ohio. In 2003, Westfield America Inc., which owns Westfield Franklin Park in West Toledo and two malls near Crocker Park, sued the port authority and the mayor and council members of Westlake, claiming the financing was illegal.

The 6th District Court of Appeals upheld the lawsuit's dismissal last fall.

The city's tax incentive for Levis Commons was established two years ago. The measure was amended in the fall.

The tax incentive package diverts 75 percent of the property taxes that are owed on improvements for 30 years.



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