The developer of a major downtown hotel, apartment and retail project is asking for up to $35 million in tax-supported assistance.
Today, the Omaha Planning Board unanimously approved Shamrock Development's request for tax-increment financing on its planned project at 10th Street and Capitol Avenue. The company says it would use TIF to offset costs such as engineering and public improvements on the project, which is expected to cost more than $205 million.
The Planning Board's recommendation now moves to the City Council for final approval, pushing forward a project that has been moving slowly since it was first announced in 2011.
Mike Moylan, Shamrock's president, said it has taken a considerable effort to get a hotel company interested in building a full-service operation in a slow economy and in a mid-sized city. The project also has been held up by environmental studies and related work to get the former Pinnacle Foods site ready for development.
But now, with Marriott on board, interest from retailers and a growing demand for residential space around downtown, Moylan said he's confident the project will move forward. He said landing some help from the city, however, will determine whether it can be completed, as planned, by December 2015.
“Without a doubt, (TIF) is extremely important to the success of this particular site,” he said. “We're looking at a large-scale, mixed-use development we'd like to have occur all at one time, and it cannot be done without the support of TIF.”
Under tax-increment financing, additional property taxes generated from a development are used to pay for a portion of the project's costs.
In addition to a 350-room hotel, the project will include 100,000 square feet of space for shops and restaurants, 140,000 square feet of office space, about 250 apartments and a parking garage.
Officials with the city and the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority have said adding another full-service hotel like the Hilton Omaha is crucial to the success of the CenturyLink Center and other downtown entertainment venues.
During a board meeting Tuesday, MECA officials told board members that they are finding success in keeping the CenturyLink booked, but continue to lose some business because of a lack of hotel space in the area. They said convention bookers are typically looking for hotels with restaurants and other amenities, which is more than some existing downtown hotels currently offer.
Roger Dixon, MECA's president, said getting more options for visiting groups is key to making Omaha a bigger destination.
“We're nothing unless we have hotel rooms,” he said.
Staff writer Lizzie Johnson contributed to this report.