Grandview Yard

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Understanding Grandview Yard tax revenue

Published August 30, 2016 by justicewg

The city has big plans in store for the future, and unless we are thinking about going to war with Upper Arlington, we will not be funding those plans with more taxable land area. We have some new businesses on Goodale, but that area has about maxed out on value (unless business owners can be convinced to build tall offices). That leaves Grandview Yard as the key to the future increases in finances. The City recently published an overall summary of the financial data available on the Grandview Yard development, let’s dig into the numbers.

Property tax income and TIFs and Pilots

Property value GY

The first chart shows the property market value of the Yard. The TIF value is the additional value that was created by construction, and by agreement with NRI, will mostly be used for infrastructure bonds. The abatements are cuts in taxes given as a lure to build (or what some might say as a give-away to businesses that always have a hand out for corporate welfare).

What you learn from this table – between the TIF and the abatements, the city has not increased tax revenue into the general fund from property tax. If anything, it went down. If the city would have the same reliance on property tax as the school, you would be reading stories in the TVN similar to the “No boon from G.Y.” story that was published this year.

Pilot is the brain of the TIF

We are getting into the complex part of the story when we try to understand PILOTs. I quote from the doc:

Properties in the Grandview Yard TIF pay amounts equal to the property taxes, known as “payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTS)”, as though the TIF had not been established. To the taxpayer in the TIF it is the same amount of money, but behind the scenes it is put into two different “pools”. The entire amount of PILOTs is sent to the City for distribution to the School, Library and Infrastructure Bond Trustee.

While the TIF was being set up, it was an agreed fact that the school and the library could suffer while the old buildings were torn down, and the TIF shuttled money to construction bonds. The PILOT is the brain of the TIF, and sets aside money to help the school and the library. There is complexity in the “Waterfall” of tax money that is diverted in stages to the school first, but I’m not sure if that’s important information. What you learn – the school tax income from G.Y. will be mostly flat.

Employment

According to the doc, there are over 2,000 new employees working at the Yard as of July 31, 2016. That’s not counting construction employees who are building the Yard. We are starting to get into the income tax part of the finances, and it is important to understand who pays income taxes to the city.

(Edit) I had some incorrect info about municipal income taxes, Ohio has some very complex rules. Some cities give 100% credit for income taxes collected outside the city, some 50%, some no credit. So it is possible for some Yard workers to pay taxes both to Grandview and an outside city. There is no breakout of the kind of tax income (personnel or business) in the data shown in this Grandview Finance document.

Business who are located in Grandview do pay income tax here. The 30 new businesses in the Yard will pay significant new income taxes to the city.

Summary of Revenue Created

Summary of Revenue Created

This chart shows a listing of the types of new money at G.Y. Note how much is being sent to the City of Columbus. Also note the size of the hotel tax, which only comes from one hotel, and will soon come from two. The largest non-TIF part of the pie is city income taxes.

Hotel Taxes

I’m working on a new story about how the Hotel taxes are generated and distributed. The only surprise I have at this tax is how well the Grandview Parks and Rec department did with a specific tax slice worth $136,439 last year. It will be something to watch as that number increases.

School Income

School district income from Yard

The school district depends on property taxes for most of their income. As you see in that section of the pie chart, the TIF agreements have held the taxes flat. The only section of the chart that is increasing is the “New Money PILOT”, and that’s only $302K last year, and is not supposed to gain much in the future.

The school can push for even higher property tax, but that will be coming from the rest of the city, not the Yard, which is protected by TIF agreements. The present millage puts us near the top of the chart in property tax rates in F.C., how much more can they expect Grandview residents to pay? Pretty obvious where the school will be going for new taxes in the future.

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G.Y. is no financial boon to school district

Published May 18, 2016 by justicewg

bethcollier2010School treasurer Beth Collier had a story in the TVN about the financial issues we will see as the Yard gets built up. I missed noting the story when it first was published in April 2016, but it was an important document that should be linked and read.

TL,DR – Because the school board negotiated TIF agreements with NRI that mostly sent additional property tax money back into the infrastructure costs of the Yard, the school will see no windfall (until 2040, when the agreement expires.) “New funding generated by Grandview Yard has totaled $1,061,000 since 2010, which was less than 1% per year.”

If you are licking your chops over all that tax money to come after 2040, just remember that the City Center Mall was also a development that was supposed to provide taxes for Columbus after the TIF agreements ended. That didn’t work as planned. Money that arrives in 25 years goes into the Chicken and Hatch folder.

Something that wasn’t mentioned in the story – there have been very few children added to the school system so far from the apartments in the Yard. The single family homes that are under construction will add a few, but the total student additions are expected to be small. The school board would probably like you to think that there are more students on the way, so they can push for new school buildings. It just isn’t going to happen.

Also, the story in the TVN is about property tax. That is where all the money for the schools in Grandview comes from (well, a few other sources like the state, but that has been decreasing). There are other school districts in Franklin County, like Bexley, who have an income tax for the school. I’m surprised there was no mention of the possibility of an income tax for the school. I’m sure the board will be pushing that idea when they fail the first levy for building new schools.

Tangential to this story but worth noting – the TVN story has a Grandview Heights school logo as the illustration to this story, apparently it was one of the older designs that was still in use. Notice how it has the two initials of the school connected, but not overlapping, so the sequence and lettering is clear. Too bad that was one item in the historical past of the school that the board didn’t want preserved.

If you are wondering “why is the school Treasurer going public with a story about the G.Y. money, it has been a known issue for years?”, like everything else the board does now, it’s about managing perception of school funding in preparation for building new school buildings. If there are people who think the school is like the city and has significant new money on the way from the Yard, it impairs the ability to ask for new levies.

Previously – Read the post on the city blog by then President Panzera about the city’s tax income from the Yard. Although the story is a little dated (2014), it is a good overview.

(Update May 2017 ) Collier wrote a story for the TVN that is an almost identical to last year’s reminder that the Yard will not be a big source of funds for the schools. I guess that it is a message that needs to be repeated, low information voters can look at all the new buildings going up in the Yard and think that it must be creating a wave of new funding for the schools.

I think Collier will be putting this story on constant repeat, there is little chance the board can pass big new levies for building new schools as long as some percentage of voters still think the Yard will solve our school funding issues.

Mayor responds to complaints from The Lorax

Published March 25, 2016 by justicewg
Lorax on Flickr

CC Broken Simulacra on Flickr

Mayor DeGraw posted a second message on the Grandview city blog about the removal of trees from the Northwest Boulevard and First intersection. The first message, posted a week before, attempted to explain the reason the city has been working to re-do the trafic pattern for that area, and why the trees must be removed. This week’s post reported that a couple of additional trees would be cut down due to safety concerns.

 

Ribbons didn’t save the trees

I gave a short report on the kerfuffle over the trees in a post last August. A protest lead by (at the time former, now current) city council member Steve Reynolds complained about the cutting of trees for this project, even placing blue ribbons around the trees (which the city removed the next day). The protest didn’t save the trees, but they did point out that there was not enough meetings being held to take comments from the community, and the additional meetings produced a modified plan that saved some of the trees.

A long planning process

The first blog post by the Mayor was a comprehensive accounting of the entire process that lead to the tree cutting on NW Blvd., please read that post for all the good info on the history of the planning that has been done around the Grandview Yard project. Worth your time!

Also, read the Character Framework for Community Investment,(Pdf) a 2013 planning document that was produced by an outside consultant. Five focus group meetings were held that looked at the direction the city could move in the years ahead, knowing the G.Y. would dominate the planning process. It is a good doc that covers some basic info on traffic flow and potential upgrades to the city.

The cars must flow

The biggest reason that the city is remodeling the NW Blvd intersections is to improve traffic flow into and out of the Yard. I think there will be bumper to bumper traffic jams when the 3000 employees at the Nationwide campus (plus other businesses inside G.Y.) are all driving to work in the morning and going home in the evening. The entrances on Third and Goodale are supposed to handle the majority of the flow, but that will be primarily traffic from 315 and areas to the east. I expect that will be how most employees enter at first, but they will quickly find houses to live in the near area. The new employees living inside Grandview and U.A. will be trying to enter from the west side of the Yard, and NW Blvd is the major route. Some will use First Ave too, there was talk about modifications to the intersection at First and Oxley to prevent this, but I don’t know where that is in the current plans.

Back in the dark ages before 315 was upgraded into a freeway, NW Blvd was the standard route for anyone living in the U.A and further north to get to downtown. It was choked with traffic, even after they banned all parking during rush hours and turned it into a four lane throughway. I can see it returning to that state if the traffic into G. Y. gets bad, which will be difficult for the residents who depend on those parking spots. This temporary loss of parking on NW Blvd is a sign of things to come.

Walkable – to what?

A part of the planning process for the Yard was figuring out how to connect it to the rest of the city. We have the Arena District downtown as a stark warning of how development can be localized, leading to choking businesses outside the new development area. There was much talk about how the Arena would bring up all of downtown, but it turned out to be the vampire that sucked the life out of the City Center mall.

The intersection of NW Blvd and First is also being remodeled so that it can be an extension of the walkways already completed that lead into the center of the Yard. Hopefully there will be some people that will walk from the Yard to the strip of businesses on First across from the park. I can’t imagine anyone walking further up the hill to the Grandview Ave shopping area – Americans just don’t like to walk that far.

Here is a possible scenario for the future, one that I have not heard mentioned and is not in any planning document.

The school board has been making lots of warning signals that they want to build new schools. A panel to review the school physical facilities has been created, an outside firm is working on recommendations, which I’m sure will somehow align closely with the already stated wants of the board, which has paid the consultant generously.

Stevenson school will no doubt be pointed out as a “decrepit building” that needs replaced. Nothing wrong with it right now, but I’m sure a 90 year old building can be declared shockingly outdated and hindering the education of our children, if the board is in the mood to get on the gravy train and build schools. Closing Stevenson and building a massive new building that included other grades can be an expected path for the school board.

Wouldn’t it be just an amazing coincidence if the board wanted to close Stevenson and build an elementary building somewhere else, and then the old Stevenson building became the perfect place to extend the retail shopping area on First? “The Shops in Stevenson” has a catchy name.

Mayor to hold “Community Conversations” meetings

Mayor DeGraw has announced meetings at the shelter house at Wyman Woods on April 12 at 6:00 p.m. and again Wednesday, April 13th at 8:30 a.m, so he can answer questions from the community about current and planned city projects, and discuss community issues.

Tax questions for candidates (and a TIF flashback) – G.W.

Published September 23, 2013 by justicewg

One of the most important facts that any candidate for office in Grandview Heights must know is how the tax negotiations with NRI were made, and the results that we can expect from those deals in the future. TIFs are complex, but all candidates, both city council and school board, will have to deal with them, and understand how they affect current policy. We have had a slow start to the development, but with more housing units on the way we are well into dealing with the outcome, and it will be a top concern for years to come.

If a candidate comes to my door, the most important question I could ask would be “Can you give me a short lesson on the TIF agreements with NRI in the Grandview Yard development?” If they sputter and talk in generalities and obviously don’t know what was done in those TIF agreements, they have not done their homework, and should not receive your vote.

To help give you a better base of knowledge on the TIF here is a post from July 2009 that covered the negotiations with the school board. Be sure to read both the post and the link it contains to the TVN story about the deal.

(From July 2009)

A story in the TWG had a lot of detail for the negotiations with NRI over the compensation the schools will get from the G.Y. project. Read the story for the exact numbers, the school seems like they have worked out a sliding scale of increased compensation with steps in the number of housing units.

I sent an email asking O’Reilly about the quote where he seems to imply that accepting the deal from NRI on the number of units is not up for negotiation.

You are quoted saying about a possible cap on the number of housing units in G.Y., “If we put in a cap the 11% is gone and the other pieces are gone”.
Can you explain what would be gone if a cap was put in place?
How do you know that those elements of the deal with NRI would be gone with a cap – has NRI said that it is nonnegotiable?

This was his quick reply:

I am assuming you are expecting a complete answer from me and I wish to provide that to you.

I would prefer to wait until the negotiations are finalized and approved. However, I can tell you it is my feeling that it was going to be extremely difficult to get agreement on any caps that would be meaningful.

In addition, we were able to negotiate receiving a higher percentage of compensation as the number of residential units increases.

In providing more information surrounding my quote, if we pressed for a hard cap and NRI would agree, we would have needed to renegotiate our compensation package (which includes 11% of the total increase taxable valuable of the improvements plus an additional percentage of any residential growth) with the city to lower levels than we are set to receive (if NRI would actually agree to a cap).

I will also share that in order for the finances of this to work out for NRI, they will need to self-impose residential limits.  Money to pay the bonds from the TIF will be generated at a much greater rate from the commercial side versus the residential side. Ed O’Reilly.

OK, the deal is still on the table. But the question is still present – why can’t Grandview place a hard cap on the number of units? What is NRI going to do, walk away from the table? The school has a limited ability to accept new students without hitting the wall and becoming required to build a new school. When that happens, the money gets tight fast. Read the rest of this entry →

Junctionview Studios closing

Published February 11, 2013 by justicewg

Junctionview_closedFrom the Junctionview website:

“Over the past several years, Junctionview Studios has been home to a multitude of creative individuals and host to dozens of great events. At the end of April 2013, Junctionview Studios will close its doors.

Since the purchase of the building by Nationwide Realty Investors in 2008, the tenants of the space have known that this site would eventually be redeveloped as part of the Grandview Yard Project. Nationwide has served as a very upfront, honest, and helpful landlord over the past several years. For the past years we have worked with them in a positive fashion and now it is time to move on.

While some may view this as a sad event, we would prefer to look at it as part of the road to progress. Tenants of the building will find new homes in other arts buildings and add to the momentum that is taking place in the greater Columbus arts scene.”

An article posted on Columbusunderground.com interviews some of the artists.

An article in the Dispatch mentions 400 West Rich, an artist space on the west side that seems to be the successor to Junctionview.

No Giant Eagle Market District in Grandview Yard

Published April 23, 2012 by justicewg

ThisWeek is reporting that the new Giant Eagle grocery store to be built north of 3rd Avenue at the Grandview Yard development will not be a Market District store, like the one in Kingsdale. Something similar to the store on 5th Ave is being proposed, with the addition of a GetGo gas station.

Although hints about building a Market District were given for the location, it never seemed to make sense for Giant Eagle to build two of the mega-stores so close together.

This quote from the article is important. “Other potential elements for the north end of the Yard development will likely include two or three restaurants and a branch bank, although nothing is ready to be announced, Ellis said.”

The Market District stores have mini-restaurants inside the store, this might have conflicted with the other restaurants that are to be built in the north section of the Yard.

Grandview Yard will have lots of parking lots

Published December 31, 2011 by justicewg

This was the general plan of Grandview Yard as presented by NRI back in 2007, in those optimistic days before the economy crashed. This is a poor screen grab, so it’s hard to read, but they labeled the areas for the land use. The intention was to put offices and retail to the south on Goodale, retail and residential in the center, and offices to the north. Possibly some retail on 3rd, and some residential. Parking was supposed to be in a number of parking structures, variable height depending on the density of the nearby buildings.

This is the latest plan that was put up on the GY website. Arrows pointing to all the surface parking lots added by me.

You could excuse this by assuming the parking lots are transitional areas that will be converted to buildings in the future. The question is, why do they need so much parking for a narrow row of buildings? Why not leave some of those parking areas as grass covered fields, as they have done for the areas around much of the present development?