TWIN LAKES PROJECT GETS GO-AHEAD - COUNCIL OKS TAX-INCREMENT FINANCING FOR RETAIL, HOUSING
STEVE SCOTT, Pioneer Press
June 21, 2005

A 25-year financing proposal committing future property taxes to a major retail and housing project in northwestern Roseville got City Council approval Monday night, as the long-debated Twin Lakes redevelopment moved forward.

By establishing a tax-increment financing district on nearly 80 acres of the site property, the council -- on a 3-2 vote -- cleared the way for construction of 730 housing units, 225,000 square feet of office space and 325,000 square feet of shops and restaurants. A final redevelopment contract, which hinged on the TIF proposal, was being negotiated late into the night Monday. It covers the first phase of a proposed 280-acre development north and east of Cleveland Avenue and County Road C, in an area of mostly abandoned and partially contaminated industrial land surrounding Langton Lake.

TIF districts allow the increased taxes that result from improved properties to be returned to the developer as a reimbursement for upfront costs. Twin Lakes proponents say the incentive is necessary to make the redevelopment and environmental cleanup financially feasible. The area is frequently described as blighted and is known to harbor the toxin TCE in its groundwater.

Twin Lakes opponents, more than a dozen of whom spoke during a public hearing Monday, criticize TIF as a subsidy for developers.

"This is not a good deal for the residents of this community," resident Steve Burwell told the council. "We have a group of developers asking the residents of Roseville for a portion of the money we bring home to help them get their project off the ground so they don't have to spend so much of their own money."

The first phase of the Twin Lakes redevelopment is expected to increase the area's market value from $30 million to $212 million, according to the project plan. That would result in an estimated $38 million in tax increment financing. Under the TIF plan, that would be returned to the developers, headed by the Rottlund Cos.

After 25 years, the taxes generated by the property would revert to the city's tax rolls.

"We have a developer who wants to come in," resident Gale Pederson said at the public hearing. "I don't agree with all of their plans ... but just cleaning up the area will make that corner of the neighborhood a better place to be. I think we ought to look at the positives more than the negatives and get the area cleaned up."

Council Members Amy Ihlan and Tom Kough maintained their ardent opposition to the project. Beyond TIF, opponents have criticized Rottlund's exclusive negotiating agreement for excluding other proposals; the potential use of eminent domain to acquire property; an anticipated burden on city police, fire and public works; saturation of retail in Roseville; and the addition of a big-box retailer such as Costco as an anchor to the development.

A lawsuit pending against Rottlund and the city is asking for further environmental review.

Council Member Greg Schroeder said the opponents were a vocal minority in Roseville. He, Mayor Craig Klausing and Council Member Dean Maschka voted to approve the TIF district.

"The more that people really understand what's really going on, the less opposition I find," Maschka said. "It's a very complex proposal."

Steve Scott can be reached at sscott@pioneerpress.com or 651-228-5526.

2005 St. Paul Pioneer Press and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
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