In The News › Kenner council to consider TIF taxing district to lure Target to The Esplanade mall

Kenner council to consider TIF taxing district to lure Target to The Esplanade mall

Tuesday, April 6, 2010
By Mary Sparacello
The Times-Picayune

The Kenner City Council is expected to decide at Thursday’s meeting whether to create three tax-financing districts to help prop up The Esplanade mall.

“There’s so many benefits to moving forward with this,” said Kenner Councilwoman Maria DeFrancesch, who represents the area where the mall is located.

The council could create the tax increment financing districts, called TIFs, at The Esplanade, as inducements to help convince the store to come to Kenner. One includes the area where a proposed Target would locate, a second includes the rest of the mall and the third includes the parking area, according to the legislation.

Once the TIF districts are created, Kenner officials hope to negotiate with Target representatives to offer the store 1 percent of the 2- 7/12 percent that Kenner would collect out of every dollar spent at Target, up to a total of $3 million. That deal would be enough to pay for the cost of site preparation for a new Target store, officials said.

The city hopes that the state and Jefferson Parish will kick in a portion of the sales tax collected at the store, so that the $3 million can be reached more quickly, Kenner Mayor Ed Muniz has said.
Muniz said he believes Target’s decision to locate in Kenner will spark other national retailers to locate in the mall.

“This is good news for Kenner and its business community. So, it’s important that we finalize an agreement,” he said.

But officials with the New Orleans-based Bureau of Governmental Research, a watchdog group, take a dim view of TIFs. Janet Howard, BGR’s president, didn’t speak to Kenner’s plan specifically but said part of the concern with TIFs is that they could be a “zero-sum gain from a regional point of view,” meaning that the revenue is just moving from one area to another. TIFs sometimes are unnecessary subsidies for big businesses and could hurt smaller businesses, she said.

She said she strongly recommends that any jurisdiction that implements a TIF has policies and procedures in place to evaluate the taxing district and that TIFs should promote the objectives of the jurisdiction’s economic development plan.

“To use it well you have to have to have some kind of plan,” she said. “Otherwise you end up with something that’s ad hoc and developer driven.”

Ray Cornelius, an Adams and Reese attorney who is helping Kenner with the proposal, said the Target store will create new jobs and help the mall come back.

“We’re being asked to put public funds into a project that will help the public,” he said.

Any agreement between the city and Target would have to be approved by the Kenner council as a cooperative endeavor agreement, Cornelius said.

The Jefferson Economic Development Commission is currently performing an economic impact analysis on the effect a new Target and related jobs would have on the Kenner economy, according to Scott Rojas, the commission’s director of marketing and public relations.

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