City council approves tax incentive for The Tracks

Submitted Art A rendering from EAPC shows a proposed public plaza to be constructed at The Tracks in southwest Minot.

A Minot developer seeking tax increment financing for a third project had its initial request granted by the Minot City Council Tuesday.

EPIC Companies sought a five-year, $2.88 million TIF for the first phase of The Tracks, a mixed-use development in southwest Minot near the future hospital. Existing property taxes would continue to be collected for the taxing entities, but the additional taxes collected on the property improvements would go toward the project development for five years. 

Specifically, the collected taxes would go to public amenities associated with a plaza, an estimated $3.2 million investment.

“There isn’t any dollars for this TIF, through the abatement, that would go towards any of the buildings or any of the sites that aren’t public amenities,” said Blake Nybakken, EPIC’s chief operating officer. 

EPIC previously used a five-year TIF for street improvements associated with Blu on Broadway. The city and school district  also approved a 20-year TIF in association with asbestos removal under way in the Big M building redevelopment. Ward County also is contributing with a more limited TIF.

The intent at The Tracks is to construct seven mid-rise buildings in multiple phases around the plazas and parking ramp on the 15-acre property.

Ground was broken last fall on Maverick, a seven-story mixed-use building that is expected to be ready for occupancy at the end of 2023. Ground is to be broken in the spring on Sheridan, a six-story mixed-use building. Together, the two buildings are expected to have 103 residential units, including 20 condos, and about 21,000 square feet of commercial space.

EPIC plans 367 apartment or condo units within the seven buildings and about 55,000 square feet of first-floor commercial business space across four of the buildings. Planned amenities associated with two plazas include a video board, covered stage, outdoor skating rink, turf play areas, water feature and open green space. The area would be suitable for art events, speakers, movie nights, family fun nights, children’s events, nonprofit events or private rentals. The plazas would operate under a nonprofit advisory board with revenue sources that could include parking and plaza fees, charitable gaming revenue and sponsorships.

In future phases, EPIC plans to apply for a 10-year TIF to raise nearly $11.7 million to complete the public improvements to the plazas and the parking ramp. In addition to the City of Minot, Ward County and Minot Public Schools would need to ratify a 10-year TIF. Under state law, only the city needs to act on a five-year TIF.

EPIC provided information indicating a TIF would enable the project to have a fully developed value of $141.94 million compared to $89.4 million without the public amenities provided by the TIF. Annual property taxes collected once the project is fully developed are estimated at $2.38 million with a TIF and $1.55 million without a TIF. 

“What the TIF is really about is all the public amenity space. We’ve seen how this has really created a destination — how much the public utilizes this space — and we really feel it is enhancing the quality of life,” Nybakken said in referring to similar projects in eastern North Dakota.

The council also approved a master development agreement for The Tracks. It is the first of that type of agreement in the state with regard to a TIF, according to City Manager Harold Stewart.

Stewart noted the project involves no city bonding and added the risk of the project is on the developer.

“The pressure is really on for them to develop within the timeframe because if they delay, their potential to capture that TIF is minimized over that period of time,” he said. 

“More importantly, too,” he said, “a lot of these projects that are being done across the state are being invested in by a lot of our local Minot residents, so why wouldn’t we want to have some of that investment stay here within our own community and continue to help us stay competitive and attractive as one of the best communities in the state of North Dakota?”

“We’re looking at a local company with significant local financing, with significant local leadership, that has a proven track record of succeeding in Minot,” council member Stephan Podrygula said. “That’s really, really important to me right now, particularly with all the problems we’ve had in the past with developers from outside.”

Council member Carrie Evans questioned the market-rate housing versus additional affordable housing. Nybakken said The Tracks isn’t proposed for affordable housing, although some of EPIC’s previous projects in Minot involved affordable housing. Stewart said the city plans to conduct a housing study to get a better handle on the community’s housing needs.

“One of the biggest challenges facing our community is housing,” council member Scott Burlingame said.  “But one of the biggest things probably facing our community is the need for employees.”

He said The Tracks housing could attract young workers by offering public spaces and entertainment.

“So I think that this has so much potential to bring added value to our community and make Minot a place that people want to live in,” he said.


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