Developers of the Hinchliffe Stadium renovation project have made key changes in an effort to secure support of the City Council.
Under the changes, the city will no longer be required to take on debt to support the renovations, according to Baye Adofo-Wilson, primary developer on the project. He said the low-income housing component has been changed from family to senior housing. And a daycare has been added to the proposal.
“The project has something for everyone,” Adofo-Wilson told the City Council on Tuesday night. “We made a lot of changes.”
Council members previously blocked the project by voting down a lease agreement between the school district, owner of the stadium site, and the city. The lease agreement has to be approved for Adofo-Wilson to obtain site control.
Council president Maritza Davila said the economic development committee suggested the changes to the redevelopment agreement after the Jun. 12 rejection of the project.
“Significant” changes were made, said William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman. Sayegh administration officials did not make available a copy of the revised redevelopment agreement.
Since the rejection almost three months ago, Sayegh has been cajoling council members – including naming the Great Falls Festival after Davila — to gather the votes needed for approval.
Previously, the City Council rejected the project in a 5-4 vote. Sayegh needed to convert a single vote for his project.
Some council members questioned the developers, but much of the opposition to the project has evaporated.
“What is your equity contribution to this project?” asked Lilisa Mimms, councilwoman at-large. “What are you bringing to the table?”
Joseph Portelli of RPM Development Group, a second developer on the project, said the developers will contribute $5-6 million of their own money to the project.
The price tag for the project is $76 million, according to revised figures. Sayegh has earmarked $49.95 million in state tax credits to the project. The rest of the funding will come from state low-income tax credits, federal and state historic preservation funds, and $3.5 million from the city.
Will the developers come to the City Council for a tax abatement? asked Luis Velez, 5th Ward councilman.
“Yes, we will,” replied Portelli. He said the tax abatement is needed for the housing project. A previous proposal stated the developers will seek a 30-year tax abatement. A six-story housing complex will have 75 apartments. A four-story parking deck made up of 314 parking spaces will go up in the area. The renovated stadium will have exhibition and restaurant space.
Michael Jackson, 1st Ward councilman, was the sole critic of the project. He said it was too expensive. He worried the project will have big parking implications for the area. The stadium has 7,800 seats. 314 parking spaces are not enough to accommodate visitors to the stadium.
Jackson wanted to know whether an area impact study was conducted.
McKoy said he wanted to see an area traffic study. The developers may have to provide a traffic study to the planning board.
Council members will vote on the lease agreement on Tuesday night.
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