In a hearing at the Richmond Heights City Council meeting on Monday, the council heard details of a proposed tax relief plan for the developer of Boland Place, a mixed-use development at Dale Avenue and Boland Place.
Richmond Heights City Manager and the developer, Joseph Cyr, called the tax relief a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes). Under the proposed plan, which the city council has yet to vote on, the annual property taxes on the completed project would be capped at $297,000 for ten years. It’s estimated that the plan would save Cyr $100,000 over the 10 years, paying about 72 percent of what the tax would be otherwise. If, in an an assessment, the taxes go under the $279,000 cap, the lower tax would be owed.
Cyr said he is forced to ask for tax relief because the projected tax on the completed project came in at 50 percent higher than he expected. He said there was “no rhyme or reason” to the assessment, and his lender told him to figure out the problem.
Nelson Mitten, representing the Maplewood Richmond Heights School Board, said the board supports the plan, considering the increase in taxes. The property could add more than $200,000 to the MRH School District ($236,000). The city will see $22,500. The total tax bill for the property in 2016 was $11,000.
Three residents spoke against the plan: Michelle Bolden and Derek Bolden, who live across the street from the project, and Paul Lore, a former Richmond Heights council member.
Michelle Bolden asked why Cyr is asking for tax relief now, and when it was approved, he didn’t need it? She said the property looks worse now than it did before demolition began, with broken windows in the former school building and more, and that the proposed 24-month construction period is too long.
Lore said he calls the tax relief ‘tax abatement’, not a PILOT — “A rose by any other name… tax abatement by any other name…” He accused Cyr of bait and switch by asking for tax relief now, or that his margin is so thin that if not enough renters come he will default on his loan. He wondered how much difference $100,000 could make on a $34 million project.
Resident, Jeff Saeger said he was in favor of the plan. He said he had received tax abatement on a building he bought downtown, and said, “thank god,” otherwise he and his wife might not be in their home now. He said the 10 years of the abatement will go by quickly.
Ed Notter was the only council member who expressed an opinion — opposing the development. “I find myself in the odd position of tending to agree with ex-councilman Lore,” he said, expressing skepticism about why Cry is asking for tax relief now, and not when it was approved by the council.