GTP proposes TIF district downtown to spur revitalization

Published: Aug. 13, 2019 at 10:29 PM CDT
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Topeka's governing body has started discussions on potential incentives that will bring more business to the downtown area.

The Greater Topeka Partnership is proposing a development district that will include downtown Topeka and NOTO.

The proposal includes creating a tax increment finance district, or TIF, in the downtown area.

"Tax increment financing is a way of encouraging developers and investors to come into that area and create new projects that will cause its revitalization," Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Curtis Sneden said.

He said establishing a TIF district would help continue the momentum of downtown's revitalization.

"We've got momentum now, the fly wheel is moving, but it's not moving on its own yet,” Sneden said. “We hope developers near and far will come to take advantage of that, [and it] should lead to a great deal more construction downtown.”

The district will range from about the river to 17th Street and from Topeka Boulevard to Adams Street.

Council members raised concerns that TIF districts typically favor large scale projects.

Sneden said they share the concern and are doing what they can to help smaller property owners in the district.

"There’s a concern that this tool might be a big hammer that won’t be of much use to smaller property owners in downtown who might prefer to take advantage of other types of tools,” Sneden said. “We've tried to adjust our approach to this district so that the smaller property owners still have an opportunity to do what they need to do as well."

Sneden added that virtually the same area is also a Federal Opportunity Zone, which is another type of economic incentive for developers.

He said the belief is that adding the TIF district would make the area even more enticing for future developments.