Vandalia’s aldermen on Monday agreed to give more than the standard Tax Increment Financing contribution for a downtown project pledging 50 new jobs.
The city council voted unanimously voted to OK a 50-percent TIF reimbursement of $116,000 to Hillsboro-based Marvin Gardens Properties LLC for phase I of its project at 410-412 W. Gallatin St.
However, with labor costs being removed from the grant application, the actual reimbursement will be considerably lower.
Marvin Gardens has plans to purchase the current home of L&M Antiques and then completely renovate those connected buildings before leasing them to Atlas 46.
The TIF grant is for phase I of the Marvin Gardens plans, which is to create a work space for Atlas 46, a Fenton, Mo., company that manufactures construction apparel such as clothing, and tool belts, gear kits, chest rights and workshop aprons.
Affiliated with Atlas 46 are Hardcore Hammers & Axes and Alexandrea Purses.
Brian Sullivan of Marvin Gardens said that the plan for Atlas 46 in Vandalia follows the one in Hillsboro, where the manufacturer also currently has storefronts for Hardcore Hammers & Axes and Atlas 46, with Alexandrea Purses to be added soon.
Sullivan also told the TIF committee that the partnership of businesses also plans to add Woofers & Whiskers, a pet store business, in Hillsboro, and believes that Atlas 46 would want to also do that in Vandalia down the road.
The manufacturer typically has downtown storefronts, Sullivan said, so that potential customers have the opportunity to view the products before making any purchases.
Two of the aldermen who have in the past urged not to award TIF grants of more than 25 percent, in accordance with the TIF Best Practices document the council approved in November of last year.
After Mike Hobler asked about exceeding the 25-percent reimbursement standard, Bret Brosman said, “I also am one that has been very much a stickler about the 25-percent reimbursement rate, lacking extraordinary circumstances.”
“In this situation, Marvin Garden Properties, the two owners of the company are here with us tonight; they understand that as owners of the property, their labor is not reimbursable.
“Their best estimate that day (of the TIF Advisory Committee meeting), off the hip, when asked, that this will actually net out to about a 28-percent TIF because of all the labor” they are doing,” Brosman said.
“Oh, I am not all opposed to 50 percent on a TIF,” Hobler said, referring to his preference not to give reimbursement grants of more than 25 percent when it’s not warranted.
“I believe it merits 50 percent with the job creation,” Hobler said.
Sullivan, who was accompanied by Mark Hughes, said, “We do a lot of the work ourselves,” referring to the complete renovation of the two connected buildings.
“Mark and I do these building, a lot of demo work particularly, and some of the similar things we do ourselves,” Sullivan said, adding that they may run conduit or perform other tasks.
The skilled trades, he said, would be hired out, with the plan to hire local people.
“Our intention is to stimulate the economy any way we can,” Sullivan said, explaining that they have already asked Mayor Rick Gottman and Director of Economic Development Amber Daulbaugh about getting a list of local contractors.
The only thing that might possibly be a problem is if the contractors are so tied up with other projects at the time, he said.
“We work with several contractors over here and have a relationship,” Sullivan said.
As to the head of Atlas 46 going into older downtown buildings, Sullivan said he “is a big historian – he loves Lincoln and that was one of the things that endeared him to Vandalia.”
The second phase planned by Marvin Gardens at that location is the creation of five apartments on the second floor.
Also at Monday’s meeting:
• Gottman said that the city is purchasing a storage building for $1,200 that will be placed in the Old State Burial Ground.
The mayor explained that Dorothy Donley, who has been heading up numerous volunteer projects at the cemetery, told him of her desire to have a shed.
Gottman said he was driving by a storage business and noticed that it had a shed for sale.
“If we had to pay for what she (Donley) is doing at that cemetery, it would exceed this a thousand times,” Gottman said.
• The council approved the transfer of Vandalia Lake lot No. 71 from Robert Reinhardt of St. Louis, Mo., to Paige Brown of Waterloo.
• The council approved Gottman’s appointment of Dean Black to the Vandalia Zoning Board of Appeals.
• The council approved the report on the inspection of the Vandalia Lake dam, which notes the need to replace some defective slab areas and reseal some joints in the spillway and upstream face of the dam.
Gottman said he has asked the city’s consulting engineers for the inspection, Milano & Grunloh Engineers of Effingham, to have estimates for the needed work in time for the next council meeting.
• The council observed a moment of silence for Jeff Hill, a former cemetery worker, and Larry Johnson, the father of Tricia Elam, an employee of Timmermann & Co. Ltd., the city’s auditor.
• Gottman announced that Olde Tyme Christmas in downtown Vandalia is set for Friday, Nov. 13, and Saturday, Nov. 14.
• The council accepted the bid of $6,000 from Ritchey Painting of Vandalia for the painting of the smaller shed at the city garage.
Genesis Property Improvement Inc. submitted a bid of $7,080.
• The council accepted the bid of $29,853 from Bahrns Toyotalift for a new forklift for the public works department.
The bid was not the lowest received by the city, Gottman said, but it does include an extra fuel tank and Bahrns has the forklift in stock.
“In the long run, it will cost more,” Gottman said about the low bid of $27,650 from Wiese of Mt. Vernon.