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VOL. 35 | NO. 6 | Friday, February 11, 2011

Bellevue Center developer misses another deadline

By Bill Lewis

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Despite an end-of-the-year deadline, the companies hoping to redevelop Bellevue Center Mall still haven’t learned whether the city will give them $12 million in tax breaks in return for including a new public library in the project.

After repeatedly extending the time for the developers to get their financing together and qualify for the tax breaks, Mayor Karl Dean’s office set a firm deadline of Dec. 31, 2010. But that deadline has slipped to the end of this month, creating uncertainty about the project among members of the Metro Council.

“We have been abundantly patient,” says Councilman Bo Mitchell, who represents part of Bellevue.

Tired of waiting for the developers, Chicago-based Inland Western Real Estate Trust and Brentwood-based GBT Realty, to present a financing plan, Mitchell wants the city to be prepared to build a new Bellevue branch library without their participation.

“Build a library,” he says. “Bottom line. I’m tired of waiting. Not only do we not have a mall, we don’t have a library.

Mitchell says city officials told him the new deadline is Feb. 28. Dean’s office did not return telephone calls seeking confirmation. GBT expects to have a meeting with representatives of the city on that day, says Ken Larish, the company’s executive vice president. He promised to provide more information later.

Councilman Eric Crafton, whose district includes the mall, blames Dean for the delay in the project.

“You could have already had a mall just about complete and a $120 million investment in Nashville,” he says.

After the mall became nearly vacant in 2008, Crafton says he initiated the idea of providing $12 million in tax breaks for its redevelopment. He proposed using tax increment financing, which would allow the developers to use part of the sales tax generated by the redeveloped mall to offset their expenses. It is the same incentive, he says, that helped Franklin land Nissan’s North American headquarters.

Conditions put in place by the mayor’s office slowed down the project. Then the recession hit, making it difficult for developers to sign up anchor tenants, Crafton says. At the time, city officials said they needed to put in place a structure for carefully applying such tax breaks to retail developments.

“They took too long,” he says of the administration. “The economy’s got everything messed up and (the developers) can’t get tenants to come in. It’s too late.”

The city can move forward with a library that is not connected to the redevelopment of the mall, Crafton says. Meanwhile, he believes Inland and GBT should be given more time.

“The TIF needs to be extended long enough to find the anchor tenants necessary to make the project successful, and the way the economy is, it’s going to take time,” he says.

Inland and GBT have proposed tearing down the mall and replacing it with an outdoor shopping center. GBT’s website says the mall’s new name would be The Shoppes of Bellevue. At 87.34 acres and 842,800 square feet of retail space, it is the largest development listed in the company’s portfolio of properties.

The company’s portfolio includes shopping centers in Brentwood, Spring Hill, Gallatin, Cool Springs, Antioch and other locations. Several of its retail centers are anchored by Target stores and retailers such as Kohl’s, Lowe’s and Old Navy.

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FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 0
BUILDING PERMITS 0 0 0
BANKRUPTCIES 0 0 0
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 0 0
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0