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Development site under scrutiny

The public on Wednesday gets a chance to weigh in on plans to demolish more than 20 homes and create a development site in the area between Belknap and North 13th Street from Grand to Fisher avenues.

The city plans to create a tax increment finance district to purchase homes from willing sellers to expand the developable area around the Blaine Business Center and Grand Central Development currently under construction on the former Central school site.

Wednesday afternoon, the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Superior considers public testimony concerning the plan. If it garners Redevelopment Authority support, the council considers adopting it Wednesday night.

"We are not going to use eminent domain to acquire the homes," said Port and Planning Director Jason Serck.

The plan would create a large site ready for a developer, Mayor Dave Ross said. Developers are looking for dirt-ready sites where they can start projects unencumbered by existing homes and demolition, he said last week.

In Superior, finding large parcels that don't require wetland delineation or construction of costly infrastructure can be challenging, which prompted city officials to consider the project, prompted by recent and current investment in the area. Part of the impetus for the project is the recent redevelopment of the former Blaine Elementary School by SGI and investors in the Blaine Business Center, and the investment currently being made at the former Central site by Grand Central Development LLC, a subsidiary of RJS Construction.

However, not everyone is happy with the project. Kevin Peterson of the Douglas County Taxpayers Association said creating a TIF subsidizes the companies at the expense of the city's working people and poor.

The Grand Central Development site would become part of the TIF district.

Bonding issued to create a TIF is repaid from collections on the site's added property value. Taxes paid by existing property owners would be lost, Peterson said.

City officials say the investment, over time, will improve the value of property.

Of the 23 homes the city is hoping to purchase, 19 don't conform to current zoning regulations. The city has already purchased and demolished a couple of homes in the area.

Contact Shelley Nelson at (715) 395-5022 or snelson@superiortelegram.com

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