TIFFIN– It’s going to take a lot of dirt– 1.7 million yards of it– to make Park Road more driver-friendly before the Forevergreen interchange opens.
And Scott Andersen is ready to break ground. “That road’s got to be paved before the ramp gets open,” he told Tiffin City Council at a special meeting Wednesday, Nov. 15. “So how do you get there? Are you just going to asphalt what’s there? I don’t think that’s the right answer. I think you guys agreed to that the last time we were here.”
Andersen, owner of Andersen Development in Coralville, originally presented a 265-acre land use plan for a development dubbed Park Place at a city council meeting in August. Council members have since passed a resolution amending Tiffin’s urban renewal area, effectively making 108 of those acres eligible for tax increment financing (TIF), which helps pay for upfront design costs incurred by the developer.
Andersen and Duane Musser, of MMS Consultants in Iowa City, addressed the council again in November to determine just how much the City of Tiffin was willing and able to pay before moving forward with design work.
“We’re kind of to the point that Scott’s looking for the city to cover his engineering costs to develop a road that we together are partnering up and both need,” said Mayor Steve Berner. “That’s what we’re talking about for this developer’s agreement. It’s so Scott can know the council is willing to jump in and help with the design costs.”
The design, which Musser said is about 50 percent complete, includes flattening out and paving the mile or so of hilly gravel between Tiffin Elementary and Forevergreen Road, as well as realigning Forevergreen to prepare for the Iowa Department of Transportation interchange set to be complete as early as fall 2018.
“We’re taking all the humps and the rolls out of Park,” explained Musser. “It’s going to be a constant grade from where we’re tying into the school up to the intersection. We’re moving a lot of dirt to make that work.”
The base design of the roadway improvements alone is $18.9 million. Additional amenities such as sidewalks and traffic lights add up to $3.4 million, and landscaping is around $385,000, making for a grand total of $22.7 million to renovate Park Road and parts of Forevergreen Road and Oakdale Boulevard– all of which will prepare the area for future development.
“What we’re looking at is building a complete project at this time, anticipating the full traffic load when it’s developed,” Musser added.
Andersen noted the design proposal from MMS was originally $425,000 for the engineering and grading of Park and Forevergreen roads, but City Administrator Doug Boldt said he increased that amount to “not to exceed” $500,000.
“The big picture that we’re talking about does come with another agreement, and that agreement will be big and heavy and have a lot of numbers and safeguards and benchmarks to make and so forth like that. That’s the next step,” said Boldt. “The first step is are we going to proceed with the development agreement with Scott, in what year do we want to do that, and in what amount do we want to do that?”
According to a calculation worksheet prepared by Boldt, the city would receive roughly $355,000 in annual TIF funds after the 108-acre property is reassessed.
Currently valued at just $2,160 per acre by the Johnson County Assessor’s Office, the property would jump to nearly $130,000 per acre– putting the 108 acres at around $14 million– after Andersen completes dirt work.
“And that’s assuming we don’t put anything else into the ordinance again to add more ground to the (TIF) district,” added Boldt.
That ground could come from any part of the 265-acre district, which will be divided into 135 acres commercial, 84.2 acres single-family, 23 acres mixed-use, and 21.8 acres multi-family. Musser said to expect big box stores, banks, restaurants, strip malls and more, in addition to hundreds of housing units.
Estimated traffic could top 47,000 vehicles per day in the commercial zone, according to Iowa’s Statewide Urban Design and Specifications manual, and that doesn’t include vehicles just passing through. Traffic counts are around 5,000 vehicles per day in the residential and mixed-use areas.
These counts call for a four-lane divided roadway with left and right turn lanes.
A 10-foot sidewalk throughout will connect to the trail included in the Forevergreen interchange project, as well as into the Tiffin trail system and the future Oakdale bridge into Coralville.
“I don’t see how you can lose,” said council member Jim Bartels. “This helps the city, the school– it’d help everybody.”
Boldt explained to the council how the city could pay the one-time $500,000 payment outlined in the developer’s agreement, which included dipping into TIF funds, adding it to a general obligation bond or using an internal loan.
“If we took it all out of existing TIF, we’d be pushing that,” he said of Tiffin’s current $1.5 million TIF fund.
The TIF money from the developer’s property isn’t anticipated to kick in until 2018 at the earliest, he noted.
Ultimately, the council decided to split the $500,000 between existing TIF funds and an internal loan, which will be paid back later with TIF money from the developer’s property.
“We should do this,” said council member Peggy Upton. “This is a preliminary step in engaging in this project if that’s what we’re going to do and we can’t know what we’re talking about until this work is done.”
Council members approved the developer’s agreement,including the $500,000 TIF payment, with Andersen at a Nov. 29 meeting. The council also gave Boldt and Berner the go-ahead to have real estate discussions with affected property owners along Park Road.
Council members were scheduled to discuss an engineering agreement with the City of Coralville concerning the extension of Oakdale Boulevard across I-380 at a Dec. 6 council meeting.
Article by the North Liberty Leader: http://www.northlibertyleader.com/content/paving-park-road