By Dan Spalding
WARSAW – The idea of residential TIF districts might sound like a bunch of highfalutin bureaucratic hooey, but the city of Warsaw is working on numerous pieces of a complex puzzle that could lead to the construction of about 500 homes in different areas in the future.
Nearly two years ago, the city became one of the first communities to establish residential tax increment finance districts with the hopes of spring-boarding some much-needed residential development to meet the demand for housing.
The idea is to capture new tax revenues and use that money in ways that pave the way for developers to invest in residential developments.
The districts are on the north and south sides of the city in areas where undeveloped land is available and could accommodate new housing.
Efforts to boost residential development are happening inside and outside of the districts.
One example of that came Friday at the city Board of Works and Safety meeting when Jeremy Skinner, the city’s director of community and economic development, received approval for an easement agreement that is being arranged to allow for the installation of utilities to a 70-acre tract of land along Corridor Drive near Old Road 30.
The agreement will cost about $11,700 to cover legal expenses.
Skinner said the city is committed to extending sanitary sewer to the property and the developer would cover the cost of extending the service to individual residences.
For the Corridor Drive project, Skinner said the city would need to annex the property and then extend the northern TIF district to include the land.
Lining up easements and extending sewer are the nuts and bolts of what a residential TIF district can do, Skinner said.
After two years, the city is seeing some progress.
“I think it’s going well so far, but I don’t have anything in the ground,” Skinner said, referring to tangible results. “The effort is there … we’re looking at seven different residential developments that would be close to 500 some housing units.”
Meanwhile, the city is seeking to tap into $500,000 from the state to cover cleanup costs at the old industrial site known as the Arnolt property near Argonne Road, which has been in receivership for about two decades.
The money is being made available through a revolving loan program with assistance from Indiana Finance Authority and the state Department of Environmental Management. Michiana Area Council of Governments is also involved in the project.
The city has already determined the presence of solvents, cadmium and chromium as well as groundwater contamination on the property. Exactly how big the cleanup project could be is still unclear.
The city took possession of the property in 2020 and is working with a developer with plans for apartments. All of that is contingent on lining up tax credits for the developer.
In addition to environmental cleanup, the city hopes to begin demolition next year. If all goes as planned, the land could be cleared within a year, he said.
“That’s the goal,” Skinner said.
In other matters, the board approved:
- a request to close off West Main Street between Columbia and Union Streets in the late afternoon to accommodate a private neighborhood party on Sept. 12.
- a plan to expand the scope of a project to correct flooding on Country Club Lane. The work would eventually involve raising the height of the road and use other techniques to reduce flooding. City paperwork indicates bids could be sought for the work in October.
- a handful of travel requests. Those were done with a warning from Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer, who said they are keeping a close eye on travel plans as the country sees a new spike in COVID-19 cases.