County Redevelopment Looking At Establishing Syracuse TIF District

Kosciusko County Redevelopment Commission approved Thursday getting quotes for professional services in establishing a residential tax increment finance (TIF) district in the Syracuse area.

The proposed TIF district is an approximately 112- to 117-acre property about 2 miles south of Syracuse on the north part of Lake Wawasee where South Shore Golf Course was.

Jeff Dyson, of South Shore Ventures, and Alan Tio, chief executive officer of Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation, asked for the Commission’s partnership in helping getting the TIF district going.

Tio said what would be in the TIF district is a project called South Shore Villages, which would be a transformative project for the northern part of the county. What is being developed is single-family housing, apartments, retail space and office buildings.

Tio said he is looking for the Commission to help begin some of the investigations to get the project started and planning work to get the site work. The proposed district is in an unincorporated part of the county, so Tio said it would definitely be in the scope of the Commission purview.

Dyson said he and business partner Nathan Scherer wanted to put South Shore Villages together as a community project to benefit the community as a whole. They want to create an opportunity for housing since there’s a need for housing in the area. They also want to integrate the youth into the project and Dyson said he and Scherer decided to do that by dedicating 20 acres of the property to Lakeland Youth Center, who is going to work with the boys and girls club to create a facility for after-school and youth activities on the property.

They also want to integrate other parts of the community, such as Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation, walking trails and beautifications, as well as retail aspects, such as boutique shopping and office buildings.

Dyson said they wanted to build up the property to help bring people to the area and have things to do within walking distance in the Wawasee area.

Commission President Joni Truex asked how Dyson and Tio envisioned the partnership with the Commission.

Tio said they would work together to create a TIF plan and district and some of those upfront needs, such as site development, sewer, road, water, etc. That way, KEDCO could focus on getting other partners on their way and ideally helping getting the project finished a lot sooner.

Dyson said South Shore Ventures has all ready spoken to a residential developer and other residential developers have shown interest in the project. Tio has also reached out to organizations like Michiana Area Council of Governments to do things like traffic studies done. Dyson said South Shore Ventures is all ready working with an engineer.

Truex asked if they knew how much creating a TIF district would cost. Tio said KEDCO is aware of the different variables that would need to go into creating a TIF district, but as far as a price, he estimated approximately $25,000 to $50,000.

Commission attorney Adam Turner asked for a timeline in creating the TIF district. Tio said it is looked at having the TIF district formed by the end of the calendar year to capture the land value and to bring the project in the spring.

County Auditor Michelle Puckett said there is a tight timeline because part of the process in selling bonds. Turner asked if bonds still needed to be secured. Tio said yes, coming to the Commission was the first step and securing the bonds was step two. When asked how much in bonds they’re looking to secure, Tio said approximately $2 million to $3 million in bonds. Truex asked who would be securing the bonds. Puckett said talking about that would be part of the process when bonds are being secured. She said there had been some instances in the past where they county had secured bonds for TIF districts, while in other instances the developer secured the bonds.

If not enough money is made in the TIF district to pay the bonds, whoever owns the bonds will have to pay that money, Puckett said. That is one of the risks that needs to take into consideration if the county were to take on the bonds. That’s why the decision to take on bonds starts with the Commission, then goes to Area Plan, Kosciusko County Commissioners and back to the Commission. Any of the boards can say no to taking on the bonds at any point in the project.

Turner said asked if the roads on the property were county-maintained roads. Tio said it was. Turner then asked about what types of utilities were available. Tio said there was a sewer line on Ind. 13, but there was no waterline nearby. Dyson said well water would have to be used on the property.

Dyson said South Shore Ventures is the exclusive owner of the property at the moment. He wanted to come before the Commission first to see what needed to be done.

Truex said she would like to get quotes on professional services and for everyone to agree with one company to help get the district started.