The projects are not without controversy. The debate is whether or not any development that received TIF money ought to include affordable housing.
Although the HRA approved the projects, the debate has not ended. Each development would use tax breaks in the form of tax-increment financing, which use anticipated increases in property values to help fund development. Together the projects are expected to receive nearly $12 million in property tax breaks, spread out over many years, to help pay environmental cleanup, new roads and other infrastructure.Would an affordable housing requirement impede needed new housing in the depressed downtown region? Are condo developers getting a free ride with taxpayer dollars, and making it harder for middle-class families?
Yet neither would provide affordable housing, commonly a requirement for tax-increment financing in St. Paul. WestSide Flats homes, for example, would start at $276,000.
My opinion is that, unlike Minneapolis, there's no shortage of affordable housing in Saint Paul. Instead, the capitol city badly needs developments like these, to increase density (and excitement levels) in the downtown zone. And, $12 M in TIF isn't that much . . .