|W21 receives city funding|
|July 02, 2015 Jerry Purvis|
At a special meeting Monday evening, members of the Gering City Council approved a Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) package for the soon-to-open Weborg 21 Centre on 10th Street.
The TIF funding will be used for major renovation and construction of the existing former Coors distribution warehouse. It would include upgraded utilities and improvements to the lot area, such as concrete surfacing, right-of-way improvements, ADA design and construction, curb and gutter, sidewalks and landscaping.
Owners Troy and Lisa Weborg submitted to the city a redevelopment plan for the building, along with improvement drawings, last November. Bonding for the TIF won’t be financed through the City of Gering, but the owners will go through the bonding process. The city will receive and manage the proceeds and will disperse them as needed.
Council member Larry Gibbs said that while it was a good project, he questioned the timing for requesting TIF funds. Weborg’s proposal said the project wouldn’t be possible without TIF funding. “Since the project is about 90 percent completed, why are they coming for TIF funding now to fund a project that wasn’t feasible before?” Gibbs asked. “Shouldn’t they have asked for funding before the project started?”
But City Engineer Paul Snarr said the Weborgs have been working with the city on the project for almost a year and they knew all along they would apply for TIF funding.
“This property went through a blighted/substandard process,” Snarr told the council. “It was feasible project for TIF funding and a valid use for the funds.”
Gering Mayor Tony Kaufman said it isn’t the responsibility of the council micromanage private business decisions. Based on submitted data, the project is eligible for TIF funding and any timing on how a project proceeds should be left up to the business owner.
Attorney John Selzer, representing the Weborgs, said they have spent about $3.2 million of their own funds on the project so far. “The 10th Street corridor has already been designated as blighted or substandard for development purposes,” he said. “This project will help increase property values, sales taxes and employment in the area. That could lead to further development.”
After the meeting, Lisa Weborg said most of the work on the building is completed, although a lot of work still needs to be done to get ready for an official opening. Two of her employees have scheduled wedding receptions at the center, one of the Fourth of July.
“Landscaping will obviously be a major part of the project,” Weborg said. “We have more than two acres in the back with a beautiful view of the monument. It will be developed into parking and an area for outdoor weddings. None of that is done yet, but about 90 percent of the interior is done.”
She said she would like to have an open house during Oregon Trail Days for people to take a look at the facility. However, it may not be in full operation until later this summer or early fall.
“We’ve owned the property since June of 2013, so this has been a long project,” Weborg said.