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La Vista approves taxes at City Centre businesses to offset city's costs

La Vista approves taxes at City Centre businesses to offset city's costs

Astro Theater

Concertgoers at the Astro Theater will pay a 3.5% tax on ticket sales, and a 1.5% tax will be applied to retail sales at City Centre. Eateries subject to La Vista’s separate 1.5% restaurant tax won’t also collect the occupation tax.

Concertgoers, shoppers and diners at La Vista’s City Centre all will pay a little extra in taxes while patronizing the mixed-use development rising along the east side of 84th Street south of Harrison Street.

A 3.5% general business occupation tax recently approved by the City Council will be added to ticket sales at a planned indoor-outdoor concert venue. A 1.5% tax will be applied to retail sales at City Centre businesses.

Those taxes follow a citywide 1.5% restaurant tax that was approved last fall. But the taxes won’t be stacked on top of one another, Mayor Doug Kindig said: City Centre restaurants and bars subject to the restaurant tax won’t also collect the occupation tax.

Those revenue sources will help La Vista offset city costs related to the $235 million City Centre, a 34-acre complex between Park View Boulevard and Giles Road that will feature retail shopping, dining, residential and office space over about 300,000 square feet.

An apartment complex has already opened to tenants, and a slate of restaurants, including a sushi place and craft beer bar, are on the way. Ground could break on the music venue, which will be called the Astro Theater, as soon as late April, according to the city.

The occupation tax will help cover a $3 million grant the city is providing to the Astro’s private developers. The grant will go toward construction and other costs of the venue, which is expected to cost about $22.6 million, city documents show.

The grant program, approved by La Vista voters in 2003, was created by Legislative Bill 840, which allows cities to collect tax dollars for certain economic development purposes, including tourism.

A similar La Vista grant was given to the Embassy Suites hotel and conference center near Interstate 80 and Giles Road, said Rita Ramirez, La Vista’s assistant city administrator. That project has spurred further development in the Southport area, an important source of tax revenue for the city.

Many of the people who spend money at City Centre, like those attending concerts, probably will come from outside the city of 17,000, Kindig said.

“The majority of the people that are going to come to (the music venue) are going to be non-La Vista residents, so having people outside of our city help pay for our development is very attractive for me,” he said.

The city will issue bonds to generate the grant money, which will be disbursed to the developer as needed. La Vista will be responsible for restrooms, green spaces and public plazas near the music venue and nearby Civic Center Park.

The name of the music venue, which is being opened by Omaha’s 1% Productions, Kansas-based Mammoth Live and Omaha developer City Ventures, is a nod to Omaha history.

Before becoming the Rose Blumkin Center for Performing Arts in the 1990s, the building at 20th and Farnam Streets was for a time called the Astro Theater.

Jim Johnson, co-owner of 1% Productions, recalls driving around downtown as a teenager, seeing the empty Astro and thinking, “That could be such a cool music venue.”

“I thought it fit to pay homage to that place,” Johnson said of the former Astro.

The new Astro Theater will be built into a hillside on the north side of the City Centre lot, near Civic Center Park, which opened to the public last fall., 402-444-1127, @reecereports

Omaha World-Herald: Afternoon Update

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Reece covers Omaha City Hall, including the City Council and Mayor's Office, and how decisions by local leaders affect Omaha residents. He's a born-and-raised Nebraskan and UNL graduate. Follow him on Twitter @reecereports. Phone: 402-444-1127​

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