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Woodstock considers $5M overhaul of Old Courthouse complex using tax credits, TIF funding

Overhaul calls for TIF, tax credit funding

Woodstock City Council meets May 7 in Woodstock.
Woodstock City Council meets May 7 in Woodstock.

Woodstock City Council is considering taking the financial lead in a multimillion dollar redevelopment plan for its Old Courthouse and Sheriff’s Jail complex.

City Council members recently considered a plan by the Old Courthouse and Sheriff’s House Advisory Commission that would leave the city in charge of funding a renovation proposal using tax increment financing district and historic tax credit money.

City Council members agreed to consider hiring a historic tax credit attorney and issuing a request for proposal for potential developers, particularly those who would be interested in opening a banquet center on the property.

Woodstock has already spent millions on the complex since it acquired the dilapidated buildings in 2011. Last year the city agreed to pay Gary W. Anderson Architects $27,000 to complete a master plan for the properties.

That plan includes at least $4.9 million in redevelopment costs.

The city has struggled to find anyone interested in taking on the project in the past.

“Before we couldn’t figure out how to fund the building,” said Paul Christensen, Woodstock’s finance director and assistant city manager. “We were putting that onus on who ever bought the buildings. Now we are going to spend the money to redevelop the building and rent it to someone. That is a game changer.”

The recommendation still calls for potential partnership with private investors or future tenants but largely budgets the project from federal and state historic building tax credits plus tax increment finance district funds.

.Woodstock would use about $100,000 in TIF money annually to pay off that bond, Christensen said.

Identified uses include a boutique hotel; artist gallery and studio spaces; a co-working space; office and retail spaces; a banquet space; and restaurant or cafe space.

Renovations to the areas of Old Courthouse that are in the worst shape and the creation of the banquet space in the Old Courthouse would be the priority, according to city documents.

The first phase of the total proposal would include those matters plus the installation of new HVAC and fire safety systems, new bathrooms on the main floor of the Courthouse and in the lower level of the sheriff’s building, plus cosmetic improvements.

The recommendation is contingent on securing some private investment and the tax credits. A project of the size proposed could generate as much as $2 million in tax credits, according to city documents.

“Without that money, right now, we struggle to make the project work,” Christensen said.

City Council members will need to formally approve the hiring of a historic tax credit attorney, which is projected to cost about $25,000 and then apply to the program, likely in the fall.

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