After St. Paul City Council members complained about lost tax revenue, Concordia University-St. Paul is abandoning its effort to get city financing to help the school buy the nearby Central Midway building.
Officials of the growing, private Lutheran college said they are still going to buy the building at 393 Dunlap St., which will have a blend of academic and industrial uses. Concordia will no longer pursue obtaining tax-exempt bonds through the St. Paul Port Authority to finance the purchase.
“We are pursuing alternative paths to procurement,” Concordia Provost and CEO Eric LaMott said via e-mail Friday.
The purchase of the building, across Interstate 94 to the north of campus, stalled last month when the St. Paul City Council refused to vote to allow the Port Authority to finance the purchase using $5.5 million in tax-exempt bonds. The bonds would have helped the university, which does not pay property taxes, to remove much of the building from the tax rolls.
Ramsey County property records show the 2019 proposed property tax bill for the Central Midway building, which includes city, county, state and school district taxes, is $202,526. City Council President Amy Brendmoen said the city will lose $46,000 a year in property taxes if Concordia buys the building.
Council Member Dai Thao, who represents the area, said it was “unfortunate” that the tax-exempt financing would not proceed. “If we can help them save money for their students and lower their costs of operation, that would be a good thing,” said Thao, who added that it was clear that other council members did not support the idea.
Some had asked the university if it would be willing to make payments to the city in lieu of taxes, he said. Thao said, however, that it would not be fair to “hold [Concordia] to a standard” of paying fees in lieu of taxes when the city has not established a framework or pilot project to demonstrate the best way to do that.