Tax talk for Nicollet Mall

Community meetings held this week on the Nicollet Mall renovation tax attracted a diverse group of downtown property owners and residents wielding calculators and scrap paper.

After civic leaders presented the new mall's design for the umpteenth time, Shenehon Cos., the firm hired to appraise all the downtown properties, unrolled a chart with the various tax rates for this special assessment.

Audience members whipped out their phone calculators, paper and pen and started to tabulate their individual costs.

In a session at the New Century Theater, when the floor was opened up for questions and answers, no one raised issue with money they would be charged.

Instead, the questions centered on disruptions to patios during construction, use and access to the mall as the crews tear up and renovate the street. There were also questions about how the mall's proponents — including the Minneapolis Downtown Council, the City of Minneapolis and the Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater Minneapolis — plan to spur the "family-friendly energy" they say they are seeking.

One audience member asked if owners of the new buildings going up around downtown will contribute to the special assessment or if "they will get off scot-free."

Robert Strachota, president of Shenehon, said, "The law is that we have a single point in time where we have to do the assessment." And that time was Jan. 2, 2014, which means anything built after then won't be taxed for the Nicollet Mall project.

Downtown property owners will receive their official notifications in early March. The assessment won't appear on property taxes until 2017.

Kristen Leigh Painter