Kwik Trip CFO withdraws from Belknap siteIt’s never been easy for Superior’s Plan Commission to say no to development.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
It’s never been easy for Superior’s Plan Commission to say no to development.
But that’s where it would have likely gone Thursday when the chief financial officer of Kwik Trip, Scott Teigen, stepped up to the podium to withdraw a request to amend the Blaine Central planned development district located in the area of the former schools along Belknap Street.
After nearly 50 minutes of discussion about the inappropriateness of the proposal in terms of the original plan and problems it could create with the city’s tax increment finance district, commissioners hesitated when Mayor Bruce Hagen called for a motion, prompting Teigen to withdraw an application to amend the district to include gas stations and conveniences stores in the area.
The city administration opposed the amendment, stating that it was not in the spirit of the development planned for the site.
Commissioners, many of whom served on the panel when the planned development district was created, concurred with the city’s assessment of the appropriate uses for the district created a month before the national economy crashed in 2008, and created a $5 million tax increment finance district in the area to help develop the site for office space, retail and housing. The expected valuation when complete was about $31 million dollars.
Since then, Jens Torgeson of AtWater Group, owner of the site Kwik Trip planned to build on, said people haven’t been lining up to develop the plan, and he believes it was an appropriate use.
Kwik Trip sought the amendment to allow the development of the gas station and convenience store in the 1000 block on Belknap Street, the site of the former Central High School. The estimated $5.5 million investment would have required about two acres of land — about 20 percent of the district — at a far lower valuation than planned when the tax district was developed, Port and Planning Director Jason Serck said. And the total valuation, would fall far short of the value estimated when the tax increment planning was done.
Even in the down economy, Attorney Kyle Torvinen, a principle in the Blaine Business Center, said the owners of the revitalized school have had a lot of bites and conversations for the portion of the TIF owned by the Blaine Business Center.
“It’s not a dead space,” Torvinen said.
However, creating one was concern among many on the commission who spoke in favor of sticking to the original plan developed about five years ago to create retail and office space and housing in the district.
“We believe that Kwik Trip would be an excellent addition to the city of Superior; however, the Belknap Street and Grand Avenue site … is not the appropriate site for this type of use,” Serck stated in a memo to the Commission. “I have worked with representatives from Kwik Trip to find other sites that are more suitable for a gas station, convenience store, and I would be more than happy to continue working with them …”
Serck said the proposed site Kwik Trip could provide a location for an anticipated development with a $12 million property valuation and generate more than $200,000 in tax revenue that would be used to repay borrowing to develop the district. The proposed 5,200 square foot store would only contribute about $92,000 in property taxes to repay the debt, Serck said.
Hagen said the city would be unable to amortize the debt if it doesn’t achieve projected financial goals of the planned tax district.
From a planning perspective, this type of use is not complimentary to the overall land use goals established in 2008 when the planned development and tax increment districts were created, Serck said.