If you're thinking about opening a new restaurant or hotel in St. Cloud, you might want to act in the next 17 months to take advantage of new economic development incentives for targeted businesses.
The City Council in late July voted to waive road impact fees through the end of 2017 for specific types of business and industry. That comes at a time when the council is set to discuss reducing or eliminating the current 50 percent impact fee discount applied to all new construction.
City Manager Joe Helfenberger told GrowthSpotter the city previously had the ability to waive impact fees for businesses that create jobs or add to the tax base.
But these new incentives are aimed directly at improving quality of life for the city's 45,000 residents. For example, St. Cloud has one two-screen movie theater downtown, and it doesn't show matinees.
The closest multiplex is at The Loop, about a half-hour drive from the city. If a new movie theater were to locate in the city, it would typically be charged $23,212 per screen in road impact fees. Even with the current discount, a 10-screen theater that would have been charged $116,060 in road impact fees is now eligible for the full waiver.
The same waiver is also available for automobile care centers, hospitals, congregate care facilities and hotels.
"We don't have any national chain hotels or motels," Helfenberger said. With the waiver, the owner of a new 120-room hotel could save $273,120 in road impact fees.
Helfenberger has often spoken of his effort to recruit more restaurants to the city. Only "quality restaurants" are eligible for the waiver. Fast-food and fast-casual restaurants fall under a different category in the city's land use code.
Heavy and light industrial users are also eligible for the waiver.
The waiver is good news for developers like Reich Properties, which is building the mixed-use West Village Center in St. Cloud. That project includes 60,000 square feet of retail, restaurants and offices.
"St. Cloud has shown their willingness to encourage new development especially commercial, and this is one more way that they are doing it," Reich told GrowthSpotter. "They are foregoing impact fees in return for building tax base and jobs in the city. These targeted industries are a good return for the city so it makes lots of sense to incentivize them this way."
There is one caveat: The total value of the waivers can not exceed 5 percent of the citywide impact fee collections for the last 12 months.
Growth Management Administrator Veronica Miller told GrowthSpotter that figure is slightly less than $70,000.