Thursday, April 10, 2003

Development gains tax package


'Streets of West Chester' wins OK

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST CHESTER TWP. - A Union Centre Boulevard developer will receive a $3.3 million tax increment financing package over 18 years.

David Kass, president of Continental Retail Development of Columbus, asked for the package for his Streets of West Chester project because he spent tens of millions of dollars installing roads and utilities east of Interstate 75.

If Kass hadn't received the package, he could have chosen not to join the TIF district in that area. That means the township could have lost more than $10 million in tax revenue from his property, Trustee Catherine Stoker said.

The Streets is expected to open in June on the southeast corner of Union Centre Boulevard and Interstate 75 with a movie theater and restaurants.

Shops, office buildings and about 400 apartments and/or condominiums also are planned.

But Trustee Jose Alvarez objected to the deal, saying he feared the township would be setting a bad precedent by giving TIF money to retail developers.

"Their job is to make money, and they should have to expect to spend some money," Alvarez said.

He also noted road improvements would be needed soon on Union Centre Boulevard, which is over capacity between Interstate 75 and Muhlhauser Road.

"I am concerned there isn't going to be money," he said.

With the West Chester and Allen road overpasses shut down in light of construction along I-75, traffic is bottlenecked during peak hours at the Union Centre Boulevard/Muhlhauser Road intersection.

The capacity on Union Centre Boulevard is 40,000 vehicles per day, according to the Butler County Engineer's Office.

The latest traffic count shows the road carries at least 43,980 vehicles daily just west of I-75 and just east of Muhlhauser.

Last fall, the engineer's office began a study to determine what improvements would be necessary to alleviate congestion in that area. Traffic counts still haven't been calculated, Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens said, but a rough analysis should be complete by July.

In other business Tuesday, trustees voted to:

• Solicit bids for architects, engineers and a project manager for the community recreation center. Construction on the $20 million to $30 million facility is expected to begin next year at Union Centre Boulevard and West Chester Road.

• Start billing patients' insurance providers or Medicare for EMS service. Last year, the township made 3,086 calls for medical assistance and spent about $20,000 on disposable EMS supplies.

E-mail jedwards@enquirer.com.




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