The St. Paul Port Authority can now access $900,000 in tax increment financing (TIF) money to cover environmental cleanup at the Minnesota United FC stadium site.
Grant funding had been anticipated for the use of environmental cleanup at the site, but not all of those grants were eligible for the project. This was an issue as officials dealt with the task of cleaning up the former site of the Metro Transit “bus barn” that occupies a portion of the stadium project’s location. The Port Authority had previously proposed using money generated in two existing TIF distrcts to cover the cost, but that plan required the approval of the St. Paul City Council.
On Wednesday, the city council voted by a 5-2 margin to approve the request. The funds, coming from TIF districts near Dale and University avenues and off Energy Park Drive, will help cover the gap in the project. More from The Pioneer Press:
The St. Paul Port Authority has assembled more than $3 million in cleanup grants from Ramsey County, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and the Metropolitan Council, but only the Ramsey County funds can be used on public land that does not generate property taxes. The “TIF” money will fill in the difference.
Metro Transit has also approved up to $4.5 million for cleanup, but the Met Council has declined to allow any additional environmental grants to be used on public land. Met Council officials noted that their “tax base revitalization” grants are intended to spur taxable private development, and the new stadium will be owned by the city and not pay property taxes.
Council member Chris Tolbert called the stadium a “game-changing” opportunity in the heart of the city.
“It’s amazing to me that the Met Council, which is the polluter, or one of the polluters, won’t fund it,” Tolbert said. “What I do think also is a positive story is that we have a Plan B. … We did contemplate this. Obviously, it wasn’t our first choice.”
The new Minnesota United FC stadium has been pitched as part of a larger development project, and has been projected to open in 2019. In the meantime, the club–which joined MLS as an expansion entry this year–will play its home matches at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium.
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