Development group outlines plans for subdivision

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

LABEL: Next to golf course

By Bob Miller ~ Southeast Missourian

The Prestwick Plantation development group -- responsible for building Cape Girardeau's new, recently annexed Dalhousie Golf Course -- outlined the general plans Tuesday night for a huge, upscale subdivision that would co-exist with the golf course off Bloomfield Road.

Bob Suelmann, one of the developers, made a brief presentation to the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Commission in the board's first meeting.

TIF is the process of using the extra taxes generated by a development and pouring some or all of those tax dollars back into that specific project to build infrastructure such as roads and sewer systems. That means TIF approval would not cost taxpayers extra money, although the city will lose out on some taxes that otherwise would have gone into its coffers.

Suelmann has estimated that the development eventually would generate up to an extra $6 million tax dollars annually to the city.

The way TIF works is that the developers only get reimbursed for the increased tax revenue that they create so the city will not be left footing the bill.

As required by law, the commission consists of six representatives from the city of Cape Girardeau, two from the school district, two from the county, and one at-large to represent all other tax entities. The commission's responsibility will be to weigh the costs and benefits and make recommendations to the city council on whether or not to accept the developers' proposal.

Mark Grimm, an attorney hired by the city to assist in the TIF process, said the council will have to determine if the project could be completed without TIF assistance. The developers say it cannot.

Some time along the way, if the council approves a TIF, a dollar amount will be set at how much tax dollars will be reimbursed, said Chauncy Buchheit, deputy director of the Regional Planning and Economic Development Commission, who will be doing much of the paperwork.

The TIF will be paid off in a maximum of 23 years.

Four neighborhoods

The Prestwick Plantation project would be the first TIF project in the city. But, as Seulmann showed the group Tuesday night, this isn't an ordinary project.

The subdivision would eventually include four neighborhoods, a golf clubhouse, a recreation center including a swimming pool and tennis courts, a community retail center and day care facilities. The homes, town houses and condominiums, would be built on wooded lots around lakes.

Suelmann said the exquisite homes and neighborhoods that would be built would help attract major industries to the area.

"When you bring in an Anheuser-Busch type of business, they're looking for high quality of life for their executives," he said.

Suelmann said the plans include $400 million worth of construction over more than 800 acres of land. He said that, during the construction, it would increase the city's annual employment by 200 workers annually and at least 100 upon the project's completion.

Given TIF approval, Seulmann hopes to have all the lots sold and properties built in 16 or 17 years.

"This is a huge project by any standard of measurement, whether you're talking about St. Louis or Memphis or any place," he said.

Tuesday night, the commission requested a proposal from the developers. The total TIF authorization process could be completed as soon as mid-September.

335-6611, extension 127

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