The Saint Paul City Council and Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) board approved the use of up to $28.15 million in tax increment financing (TIF) on June 22 to support private developments in the city. The money could help support low-income housing, prevention of business displacement, and development of vacant, city-owned properties.

The first project the funds will be used for is renovation of the former Saint Paul Casket Company building as the Twelve22, a 55-unit apartment building at 1222 University Ave. (See related story.)

TIF is one of the few tools the city has available for housing and economic development, noted City Council member and HRA chair Chris Tolbert. The Minnesota Legislature last year gave cities the temporary authority to spend unobligated TIF dollars for private developments. The intent is to create or retain jobs, according to Jenny Wolfe, debt service manager for the city’s planning department.

The 2021 law requires that a public hearing be held on a spending plan, and that the HRA and City Council approve the plan. The money can be used to provide loans and other forms of assistance to private developers for infrastructure, new construction or rehabilitation of existing structures.

Projects have to start before December 31, 2025. There is also a “but-for” test required with TIF. That is, a project would not happen without the TIF assistance.

The $28.15 million is from excess revenue from 21 TIF districts. Typically TIF can only be spent in the district where it is generated, unless additional steps are taken.

Local districts with excess TIF include Osceola Park, Shepard-Davern, Koch Mobil, Highland Pointe and Schmidt Brewery.

 

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— Jane McClure

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