Marshfield Common Council denies creation of TIF
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – The Marshfield Common Council turned down a request to create a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district that would allow for the development of a Hampton Inn.
The matter went to the council after Marshfield’s Plan Commission approved the creation of TIF District No. 12 for the development of a multi-million dollar hotel development on the former site of the Knights of Columbus Hall.
The preliminary plan calls for the eventual development of a $5.2 million, 86-room hotel to be built on the 3.5 acre parcel at 400 West Upham St., Marshfield. It also calls for the city to assist financially in getting the site ready for the new hotel. The old Knights of Columbus Hall will need to be demolished, and there will be other site preparation needs along with other improvements.
During their Jan. 8 meeting, the Marshfield Common Council was asked to give their final approval on the creation of the district.
Multiple community members stepped forward during the public comments session to address the proposed development for that TIF district, including a Leonhard Street resident, a representative from the hotel developer, and three representatives from Marshfield’s five existing hotels.
Rick Roehl, a Hotel Marshfield investor, said that even though 2018 was a good year for the Marshfield hotel industry their average occupancy is low enough to accommodate the foreseeable need.
“Last year, we had our best occupancy in our history,” Roehl said. “We finished the year at 62 percent. Last year, though, the Marshfield hotel community benefited from a couple of events that will likely not be repeated.
“The previous year — 2017, we finished in the upper 50s (percentage for occupancy.)”
“What is in the agenda… is to create a TIF district to facilitate the city of Marshfield to make an investment in a new hotel in Marshfield. Tonight’s vote is to create the legal structure that will allow the city to invest a total of $2.4 million in a new hotel. I understand that there are TIF districts that add value to the Marshfield community and the economy. For the most part, these are the type that bring new economic activity. This TIF simply brings more of something we already have, and we have underutilized hotel rooms already.
“Marshfield has enough of what this development will bring, and government shouldn’t be making an investment in the project. The hotel industry in Marshfield was created by private investors. The owners of these properties did not receive this type of help from any form of government, and we’ve been paying property taxes and supporting our communities for years. If the market demands more of this type of service, the market will provide it.”
Richard Fischer, from the Knights of Columbus Hall board of directors, added that the creation of the TIF would help enable the organization to sell the property.
“If something doesn’t go there, the property will be blighted, because there have been no other offers for this property,” Fischer said. “I think it is great that the city steps forward with the TIF district to help us move this property. It’s been for sale for a year. We have one offer and that is for the Hampton Inn.”
Council members held a lengthy discussion regarding the creation of the district, weighing in on the introduction of another hotel, the selling of vacant property, and what the district could do for future development.
“What you would be talking about is taking away from an existing market,” stated Alderman Steve Mac Swain. “When I take a look at areas that we would want to be promoting, I’d be thinking of: are we bringing business in; are we providing something that isn’t being provided elsewhere; are we in competition with another community. I don’t see any of these things here.”
Alderman Mike Feirer stated that even if the city didn’t want to assist with a hotel development, the district should be created to help the existing property owners.
“In defending the property owners, they have a piece of property in my district,” he said. “I think we should form this Tax Incremental District just for the purpose of, no matter if they do a hotel or motel or not, at least we have it ready to go. They are sitting on this property. If we kill this they are probably not going to get anything. What are we going to do with that property?
“I don’t see where making the district is a problem. If you think the hotel shouldn’t go, let’s fight it at a different venue, not this one. Create the district (and) let the property owners get a chance to liquidate their property, which is a complete square block. Somebody will come along and want to go there. If it is not a hotel, it will be something.”
In the final vote, the resolution to create TIF District No. 12 failed for lack of a majority, 5-4, with Alderman Peter Hendler absent and Alderpersons Gordy Earll, Steve Mac Swain, Rebecca Spiros, and Jason Zaleski voting no.