Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday approved some economic incentives that will help pay for The Crossing, new mixed-use development on KU’s west campus.
The commission approved on a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Courtney Shipley opposed, a 20-year tax increment financing (TIF) district to capture 95% of eligible property taxes for reimbursement. It does not include a sales tax TIF.
The property, owned by the University of Kansas, has been property tax-exempt since 1942, according to the meeting agenda materials — and “This redevelopment converts exempt property into commercial property that will be subject to property taxes.”
KU Endowment will be paying for infrastructure improvements, and it requested incentives to help reimburse the foundation for what is ultimately expected to be a $25 million investment.
“Overall, infrastructure improvements in Project Area 1 will create the developable ready sites for roughly 500,000 square feet of new development at buildout, including approximately 400 proposed multifamily residential units, affordable housing sites, a grocery store, a hotel, over 50,000 square feet of retail and dining uses, and over 75,000 square feet of office and research space,” according to the meeting agenda.
Some neighbors spoke out against the plan, raising concerns about losing green space and wanting to maintain privacy of the neighborhood. Some also endorsed a plan that two neighbors came up with that would have added a 150-foot wooded buffer between the new west campus development and the Marvonne Meadows neighborhood to the west.
Shipley and Mayor Lisa Larsen both voiced concerns about approving such a large amount for the TIF, but Larsen said she thought it was a great project and she wanted to see it happen, ultimately casting the deciding vote in favor.
Larsen said she would have been more comfortable approving 60-70% reimbursement for the TIF. However, city staff confirmed that the project would have to go back through earlier processes and analyses to consider a lower amount. Commissioner Amber Sellers said she thought the commission should have raised concerns about the amount when the project had been in front of them in the months prior to Tuesday’s vote.
The commission also approved, on a 5-0 vote, creating a 1.5% additional sales tax for a community improvement district, or CID, on the property for 22 years. See the full agenda item at this link.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the commission deferred action on a development proposed near Kasold Drive and Tomahawk Drive, called Fall Creek Villas, and approved a request to annex land southeast of K-10 and Iowa Street, called New Boston Crossing.