Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2014, 8:57 pm

SouthPark agreement will wait a week

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By Dawn Neuses, dneuses@qconline.com

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Photo: Todd Mizener/tmizener@qconline.com
According to council documents, aldermen will vote on buying 1221 5th Ave. for $115,000 from James Miller. According to council documents, the building has several code violations and structural issues. The purchase is an "effort to remove blight" and for future development.
MOLINE — It will be one more week before a development agreement for SouthPark Mall will be considered by the Moline City Council after a move to take a vote early failed.

Mall owner Macerich Co. has proposed a redevelopment project that includes demolishing 250,000 square feet, renovating the interior, improving the parking lot and landscaping and creating a new entrance on John Deere Road.

Moline has proposed rebating Macerich 100 percent of all new tax increment generated from the property for 23 years. To get any rebate, Macerich must first increase the assessed value of the property by making the proposed improvements.

Macerich has not disclosed how much the planned redevelopment will cost. Moline city staff have said the amount of the potential rebate is unknown because any new development on mall property also would increase its assessed value.

A motion Tuesday night to consider the development agreement a week early was defeated after Alds. Sean Liddell, 7th Ward, and Stephanie Acri, At-Large — voted against doing so.

Ald. Lori Turner, 5th Ward, was absent; and early consideration needed support from six of the eight aldermen.

Ald. Liddell said having to do two readings allows residents to respond to a proposal and state concerns before a vote is taken.

He also said he believes the Macerich agreement is an exception to a cap the city sets on incentives, usually no more than 15 percent of project costs. Ald. Liddell said when he asked that the cap be added to the agreement, he was told it did not apply in this case and Macerich would never hit the 15 percent so there was no point.

"If we truly have no chance of hitting the 15 percent, why is there such a strong push back against its inclusion?" Ald. Liddell asked. "In this case, we don't even have any financial analysis or pro formas as to what we are actually agreeing to. All we have are fancy pictures."

"How much is it going to cost to build the new entrance on John Deere Road? How much is Macerich going to invest in this project, and how much are they going to get back?" he added. "These are basic questions that nobody seems to know the answer to.

"In my opinion, this is as close to a blank check as I have seen in my time here," he said.

During a recent interview, city administrator Lew Steinbrecher said the 15 percent cap on incentives is for projects where Moline has made an investment in public improvements. Because Macerich is making all of the investment in the new entrance and redevelopment of the mall, the city has no up-front costs, he said.

After Tuesday's meeting, Ald. Acri said there was no compelling reason to circumvent the council's usual process.

In other business Tuesday night, the council voted unanimously to buy 1217-1221 5th Ave. from James Miller for $115,000. According to council documents, the property is blighted and has structural issues.

The property is a block away from the proposed Amtrak station and adjacent to property under consideration for a new parking ramp.