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Ardent Spirits To Redevelop 100 Block Of Clay St. Surrounding Old Herald As Entertainment District; City To Purchase Gateway Fun Park

By Stephanie Malench

Exciting news was announced for Uptown Collinsville at the November 23 Collinsville City council meeting at the Gateway Convention Center.

But first, a public hearing was held presenting the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2022. The projected budget for 2022 is $45,063,149, with $19,051,955 or 42% allocated to the public works department.

Revenues are projected to increase in 2022 to $51,900,969 from $48,582,085 in 2021. Expenditures are also expected to go up significantly in 2022 due to many projects being put on hold in 2020 and 2021 due to the uncertainties of COVID from $46,653,670 this year to $57,661,176.

Income from the 1% sales tax and 1.25% home rule sales tax are both expected to increase by 4% in 2022 over 2021 Food and beverage and income taxes are expected to increase by 2%. The property tax rate for the City of Collinsville in both Madison and St. Clair counties will be 0.7277 %, with only Glen Carbon and Troy rating lower at 0.7248% and 0.6253% respectively. Revenues from the utility tax are expected to go up 1.2% and the telecommunications tax is expected to continue its steady decline with an estimate of 10% decrease.

Ardent Spirits and 115 E. Clay LLC requested and the council approved rezoning 101, 103, 109, 113, and 115 E. Clay and 201 and 203 N. Morrison from a “B-2” Limited Commercial District and “P-UCD” Planned Uptown Collinsville District to one “P-UCD” District.

The owners plan to redevelop the entire block to include an indoor/outdoor entertainment center, sports bar, retail, and custard stand to fill in the area surrounding Old Herald Brewery and Distillery that they opened in the old Herald newspaper building in 2017. The only property to be torn down is the former Pick-A-Place to the east of Old Herald.

Mayor John Miller expressed a major concern about how the area would support major events when it can be difficult to find parking during the lunch rush or a busy weekend night when the rest of the properties are empty except for a barber shop (which will remain).

City Manager Mitch Bair said that there will be a small increase in parking in the back for staff but the Capital Improvement Plan for 2022 also includes money for improved way finding signs directing visitors to the city parking lots in the area that are underutilized. Bair also said that patrons having to walk a few blocks is not bad, as they may stop at other businesses in the Uptown area and  parking can be discussed more later.

The Council also discussed a request by Ardent Spirits for TIF incentives of $800,000. This would be approximately 37.7% of the $2.1 million project. Bair recommended the council approve between $603,300 and $784,900 at the December 14 meeting. Concerns of the council included the fact that Councilman David Jerome was absent and not able to participate in the discussion, TIF 1 goes away December 31 and other projects are awaiting approval, as well as what percentage was given for the Old Herald Development.

Yet another piece of exciting legislation was an ordinance authorizing Mayor John Miller to execute a contract to purchase the Gateway Fun Park. The 6.1 acre property is selling for $1,125,000 and Ascend Dispensary has already given the city $126,000, bringing the net cost for the city down to $999,000 to be paid for out of the TIF 1 and Hotel/Motel Tax funds. Owning the property also makes the city eligible for substantial grant funding and helps create a campus environment for the parks department activities.

The addition of the property, adjacent to the Aqua Park and across from the Gateway Convention Center, will allow the city to focus on a long-term plan of creating a community rec center. Short-term plans include using the parking lot for overflow parking and the building to store supplies for the Parks and Rec Department.

Long-term plans for the property include restoring the assets such as the putt putt course to service and restoring the building for special events such as the Daddy/Daughter Dance.

One last discussion was held on the 2022 Capital Improvement Plan before the final vote takes place on December 14. Among additions made to the plan are $95,000 from the police forfeiture fund for license plate reader cameras and $50,000 from the TIF 1 funds for way finding signs around the city, especially for Uptown Parking.

An ordinance was passed providing for a six-month moratorium relating to the construction, zoning, and licensing of short-term residential rental establishments in all zoning districts in the city. During a public hearing held before the last planning commission meeting, no one attended to voice their opinion on the issue.

The council also voted to back the decision by the planning commission denying the rezoning application  for 745 Bond Avenue from “R-1A” Residential Zoning District to “P-R-1A” Planned Residential District  by Dennis Tarrant and St. Clair Series DDD Holdings. Tarrant purchased the property in 2013 and has been using it as a two family property even though it is not zoned for multifamily use. The planning commission and city staff  recommended the denial due to the proposed zoning district and land use being inconsistent with the comprehensive plan, future land use map, and the city’s strategic goals.

In other action:

an ordinance was approved for Mayor Miller to sign an addendum to the July 2020 contract with Volkert, Inc for $6,798 to cover the cost of one of the properties  needed for the Sugar Loaf Rd reconstruction project easement right-of-way purchase; 

an ordinance authorizing Corporate Counsel Steve Giacoletto to complete forms needed to participate in the nationwide opioid settlement agreements between state and local government bodies against certain pharmaceutical distributors and manufacturers.

An ordinance authorizing Miller to execute a cloud services provider agreement with Paragon Micro, Inc. to obtain licensing of Microsoft Products and Services. The new agreement will save the city approximately $4500 annually over the current agreement since licenses will only be leased on an as needed basis;

a collective bargaining agreement between the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 103 and the City for a three-year contract effective January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2022. Officers with a rank of sergeant or below will receive 2% raises for 2020 and 2021 to be paid retroactively and 2.25% in 2022. The union had rejected a 1.5% base raise and 4% ceiling after months of noncommunication and staffing changes within the union.

The next meeting will be December 14 at 6;30 p.m. at Gateway Center.

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