City turns down TIF aid for Twisters

In his third appearance before the Vandalia City Council, local developer Dennis Grubaugh learned that he will not get financial assistance from the city for the building that formerly housed Twisters.
In a 5-2 vote, the council decided not to honor Grubaugh’s request for Tax Increment Financing assistance in replacing the roof on the former entertainment center.
Grubaugh applied for $75,000 – $25,000 a year for three years – in TIF assistance for the roof replacement, which is estimated to cost $258,750.
It was the second time that he had submitted such a request, with the council earlier asking for more information on his plan.
Two weeks later, Grubaugh said that he had reconsidered his plan, and had decided to demolish the building instead of putting on a new roof.
When he took that plan to the city’s TIF advisory committee, asking for a $400,000 grant for the $872,000 demolition project, committee members said that they still supported TIF assistance for the roof project.
The demolition would be so expensive, Grubaugh said, because he would like to save as much as possible to use in constructing a new building.
On Monday, several aldermen said that they cannot – based on what they have heard from their constituents – vote to give TIF aid for the former Twisters.
Alderman Andy Lester said, “I can’t support putting any money into the rehabilitation of this building.
“It has a stigma – it needs to come down,” Lester said.
Dorothy Crawford said that a number of city residents have voiced their opinion on the issue.
“We have to listen to the people, and they are resoundingly screaming, ‘Don’t do this,’” Crawford said.
Grubaugh conceded that the building “still has some issues,” but added, “It’s not much different than what I’ve taken on down here (downtown) … other than size.
“My track record should speak for itself,” he said. “If anyone can make that building safe, it’s me.”
B. John Clark said that he has also heard from residents.
“The people I represent, they want it gone. They don’t want the city putting any money to it,” Clark said.
Grubaugh said that he still would like to save the building.
“I’m not ready to take it down, unless the city wants to make some kind of offer that I can’t resist,” he said.
Grubaugh said that what bothers him with the council’s response to this request is that while everyone is appreciative of the work that he has done to save downtown buildings, he can’t get assistance for a project for himself and his family.
Alderman Terry Beesley said that the council’s stance on this issue “is nothing personal against you. (That building) has got a bad reputation.
“We’re just trying to do what we’re told to do (by city residents),” Beesley said.
Lester, B. John Clark, Neil Clark, Crawford and Beesley voted to reject Grubaugh’s application for TIF assistance, and Jerry Swarm and Mike Hobler voted for it.
Also at the meeting, the council did approve Grubaugh’s request for an ordinance that limits the use of a parking lot on property he owns on the north side of town.
The ordinance for Grubaugh’s property at 1118 N. Eighth St. allows city police to go onto the property to deal with issues such as loitering and littering.
The contract with Grubaugh is similar to ones with numerous other property owners who have experienced problems with such things as littering and property damage by those loitering.
One matter that was discussed as the issue came up was whether individuals could continue to park in that lot for basketball games, graduation and other events at Vandalia Community High School.
While the ordinance prohibits public parking at that location, Grubaugh said that he’s not opposed to it being used for evening events at the high school, as long as the parking area is not needed for businesses housed in his building.
“That’s not what we’re trying to stop,” he said. “We’re trying to stop the pickup and drop-off of students (during the day).”
“I want to work with the school,” Grubaugh said, adding that school officials can contact him about using the lot for some events.
 

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