Commission advances demolition funding

Demolition work, including some potentially at Crossroads Mall, could be funded through tax increment financing under measures OK’d Friday by the Fort Dodge Plan and Zoning Commission.

A potential new buyer of the mall could get up to $5.6 million. On Sept. 9, the City Council approved measures that cleared the way for possibly spending that amount to support an as yet unnamed developer that has made an offer for the site.

On Friday, the commission voted to recommend that the $5.6 million figure be included in the Center City and Industrial Park Urban Renewal Area documents. Commission member Steve Kersten abstained from the otherwise unanimous vote.

The mall is owned by Namdar Realty Group, Mason Asset Management and CH Capital, all of Great Neck, New York. In August, Mayor Matt Bemrich and City Manager David Fierke announced that a developer made a written offer for the mall. That developer is now in a 120-day due diligence period that will end Dec. 4.

In another matter, the commission voted unanimously to recommend spending up to $750,000 in tax increment financing money to buy and demolish vacant, rundown houses in a neighborhood north of downtown.

The target area is bordered by North Seventh Street to the west, Fourth Avenue North to the north, North Ninth Street to the east and Third Avenue North to the south.

The city government has already purchased a handful of houses on North Eighth Street.

”We’re just trying to get rid of the blighted properties right now,” said Vickie Reeck, the city’s community and economic development director.

Tax increment financing occurs when increased property tax revenue from a given area is set aside to be reinvested in that area. Often, the city government will borrow money, perhaps from one of its own accounts, to do a project and then use the increased property tax revenue to pay off the debt.