Council approves tax breaks for Crossroads and downtown hotel projects

crossroadsThe city council on Thursday passed public financing plans for two hotel projects in a way officials say prevents any public vote against them.

The council included an “accelerated effective date” in the ordinances, meaning they go into effect immediately instead of after 10 days.

That prevents people opposing tax breaks for developers from raising signatures and forcing a public vote, said Councilwoman Alissia Canady.

A group recently killed a plan for a new BNIM headquarters in the Crossroads Art District by delaying it for a public vote.

The council actions Thursday included sales tax breaks for a hotel project in the Crossroads. It would renovate two historic buildings that have been vacant for 20 years.

The other public financing approved was for a hotel renovation of the 95-year-old former Federal Reserve Bank building downtown, which has been vacant for eight years.

Developers for both projects on Wednesday told the council planning and zoning committee they needed quick approvals to secure financing.

The committee recommended approval of both projects, advanced them for a final council vote Thursday and included the accelerated effective dates.

Councilwoman Heather Hall was the only committee member who voted against the Crossroads project. She said it was a good project but feared the accelerated effective date would open a can of worms.

Hall was not present for the full council votes Thursday that unanimously approved the financing plans for both projects.

No one spoke against the projects Thursday.

Developers and council members say the projects could not happen without tax incentives.

But Councilwoman Canady said the council should have public talks about when and how to use accelerated effective dates.

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