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Thursday, June 27, 2019 12:06 am


Some Springfield City Council members not long ago said the price the city pays, if it ever does pay, for land to build a proposed hotel near the downtown Amtrak station is between the developer who would receive tax increment financing money and the owner of land where Club Station House now sits. Aldermen in March approved a $7.65 million subsidy, with $450,000 set aside for land acquisition costs and the bulk of the money to be paid out over time. Corporation counsel Jim Zerkle has said that money for land would be released only after the developer has secured financing for construction. Mayor Jim Langfelder during a June 14 hearing on expanding the city’s enterprise zone to allow tax breaks on construction costs said that acquisition money would be dispersed in two chunks, one for the appraised value of the land once financing is secured and the remainder, if any, once the project is finished. No representatives of the developer spoke. City documents released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request show that the project has morphed over time. Proponents last fall pitched a $95 million project, the city council granted a subsidy based on $56 million development plan and the project described at the June 14 hearing had a $73.6 million price tag. Proponents have resisted revealing ownership interests, documents show, and backers were upset when Paul Barker, who often posts online comments to news stories, sent an electronic message to one of the owners whom Allen Williams, project spokesman, identified in a council meeting before aldermen voted. “This is part of the reason we were not interested in disclosing ownership entities prior to full approval of the city council,” Williams wrote in an email to the mayor and Val Yazell, city economic development director. “Not sure who Paul Barker person (sic), but his engagement of ownership prior to full approval is unprofessional and unwarranted.” Some friendly advice: Public money comes with strings. Deal with it.


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