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Breezy Point: Proposed TIF district in the works for North Star Center

A proposed tax increment financing (TIF) district in Breezy Point could help fund the city's pending North Star Center.

The project - headed by Whitebirch Development, Inc. - is to develop 40 acres of land near the Breezy Point Sports Center (hockey arena), which would include a new Cuyuna Regional Medical Center facility and GuidePoint Pharmacy.

A public meeting in March gave Breezy Point City Council members an overview of the project and funding options. Jason Murray, of David Drown Associates, returned to the council's Monday, May 7, meeting with the suggestion to create a TIF district to finance the project.

In simple terms, TIF is an incentive program that uses the difference between the new taxes versus the old taxes and captures that over a period of time. TIF is a method of financing public or private improvements that are needed to serve new development. While the existing tax on the property continues to be paid, the increase in tax value of the property is returned to the developer for a set period of time to help pay off the cost of the development.

Council members authorized the preparation of the TIF district Monday. The next step is to send the draft TIF plan to the county and school district, which will happen Friday, May 11. Both entities will then have 30 days to comment on the plan.

Then the plan will go before the planning and zoning commission June 12, when commission members will make sure the plan's goals directly relate to the city's comprehensive plan. The council set two public hearings for Thursday, June 14, to give the community a chance to comment. The first hearing at 7 p.m. is specifically for the creation of a TIF district. The next hearing - set for about 7:15 p.m. the same night - is a business subsidy public hearing, which is required when the financial assistance exceeds $150,000.

Also Monday, the council approved both the preliminary and the final plats for phase 1 of the North Star Center project, which includes construction of the medical center and pharmacy on about 20 acres of land at the southwest corner of the intersection of County State Aid Highway 11 and Ranchette Drive.