St. Paul officials are poised to offer tax incentives for development around Allianz Field, a site that’s expected to add hundreds of millions of dollars to the capital city’s property tax base.
The City Council, acting as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), voted unanimously Wednesday to authorize the creation of a tax-increment financing (TIF) district on the 34.4-acre parcel at Snelling and University avenues. The measure, which requires state approval, would allow the city to incentivize development around the soccer stadium for 16 years.
In an interview, Planning and Economic Development Director Nicolle Goodman said Wednesday’s vote was the next step in a process that began in 2017, when structurally unsound buildings on the site were identified and demolished. State statute requires a request for state certification within three years, which is why the HRA acted now, she said.
“All we’re doing now with the approval of this TIF district is preserving that tool,” Goodman said. “It’s a tool for us to be able to possibly use public investment to support our city values in the development of the site.”
According to city estimates, the planned mixed-use development around Allianz Field — including office space, retail, housing, parking and hotel rooms — is expected to reach a taxable market value of more than $485 million by the end of 2030, and to produce more than $115 million in additional property tax revenue.
Cities use these tax districts to spur development in areas where it wouldn’t otherwise happen because of pollution or other disadvantages. As an area improves and its taxable market value rises, the city “captures” the new property tax revenue and uses it to pay for public improvements to the site.
Last year, the City Council approved $53 million in tax-increment financing for streets, parks and utilities at the Highland Bridge site, part of a $275 million package for development of the 122-acre former Ford plant.
Council Member and HRA Chairman Chris Tolbert, whose ward includes Highland Bridge, said the state deadline for authorizing the special tax districts doesn’t always align with development timelines — and creating one doesn’t guarantee the city will provide tax incentives to developers.
“I think any developer would know this isn’t us saying this TIF is available,” Tolbert said. “This is us saying we’re preserving this so that we can be ready to help push for the things that we want.”
Council Members Dai Thao and Mitra Jalali, whose wards connect near the stadium, said one of the things they want is affordable housing — and redirecting property tax revenue will give the city the power to attract and work with like-minded developers.
“This is a difficult time for our city and our nation,” Thao said, “and I want to preserve this TIF district to send a message to the development community that St. Paul is a great place to do business.”