Olive Branch aldermen Tuesday night tabled a resolution that would have approved the adoption and implementation of a $15 million Tax Increment Financing plan for new development in the city.
The Cascades is to be a mixed-use development that would include approximately 740 residential units, including apartments, senior living, and single-family homes. It would also include about 400,000 square feet of commercial space, hotels, and retail opportunities.
Estimates are the project is worth about $240 million in private investment.
The hold up has come, according to Mayor Scott Phillips and aldermen, because the city requested financial information from the developers and what the city wants to see has not come to the detail that is requested.
“We are asking the developer to produce some additional financial statements and different things of that nature,” said Phillips. “We’re still waiting on that, still haven’t received it and the board just doesn’t feel comfortable with moving forward at this point in time until we do receive that. It’s not over with but we’re giving them a little more opportunity to produce some pretty solid information that we’ve requested.”
Phillips called the $15 million TIF request the largest the city has ever considered. Alderman Dale Dickerson was especially vocal about the lack of figures coming to them and wanted to see the financial statements before moving ahead with the project.
City officials also want to see from the developers a list of those who have already committed to being a part of the aggressive project.
“There’s not a lot of risks involved on behalf of the city on the backside of it, it’s all developer risk,” Phillips said at the June 2 meeting when the project was first presented. “But, we want to make sure it’s a worthy and well-done project.”
Developers with The Cascades are asking for TIF revenue bonds to assist in funding the installation and construction of infrastructure improvements. The Cascades is to be located in the southeast quadrant of the U.S. Highway 78/State Highway 305 intersection, which last year was zoned as a Planned Unit Development. Robert L. Barber and Orion Planning + Design are planning The Cascades.
Over an aggressive six-year plan, six development districts would be constructed on the land. Among the earliest phases would be a Town Center Zone, fashioned as a traditional main street with multi-story buildings, holding shops and offices on the ground floor, and up to 350 loft apartments on the remaining upper floors. Two parking garages will also be part of the Town Center Zone.
Other zones address conventional commercial locations with retail, an active adult district for senior residential units and services geared to the 55-and-over demographic, a cottage dwelling district and townhouse district, and parks and open space district.
Officials tabled the adoption of the TIF plan until the next meeting, set for July 7.
On another issue at Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting, the board did not act on an agenda item that would have withdrawn its request for legislative support of a local and private bill it has asked for.
Namely, the city had asked that a bill be offered that became Senate Bill 2986. State Sens. Kevin Blackwell, David Parker, and Michael McLendon were listed as authors of the legislation.
City leaders had asked for a bill to allow a referendum to be held for voters to decide if Olive Branch could levy a one-percent additional tax on gross sales for room rentals at its hotels and motels.
The bill gained more than the expected attention, however, when Blackwell added the title “Dana Criswell Municipality Tourism Tax Act.” Criswell, a fellow Republican state representative from Olive Branch, is a staunch opponent of additional taxes.
Parker and McLendon later took their names off the measure as authors during floor debate.
Phillips, after Tuesday’s meeting, explained the board agenda item was not taken up because he learned from Blackwell a sister bill was now up that would do the same thing, just not have Criswell’s name attached to it, a “no-name bill,” as Phillips put it.
In other action, the City of Olive Branch is no longer in a local emergency, as board members moved to terminate the declaration Tuesday night. The local emergency was declared with the start of the coronavirus pandemic but done merely to allow the city to make certain purchases without needing to go through a lengthy process.
“We had not had to exercise that emergency, which has been in place since March 20,” Phillips said. “We’ve not used it and it does not appear that we will need in the short term. Again, if we do need it, we can declare an individual emergency for a water line break, for instance, whatever the case may be.”
The board, in the consent agenda, approved Friday, July 3 as a holiday as proclaimed by Gov. Tate Reeves and city offices will be closed on that day as part of the Independence Day observance.