CS Approves Northgate TIRZ; County Next

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It's being called the next step towards big changes in Northgate. Thursday, College Station's city council approved a tax increment reinvestment zone for that part of town, one which would help fund a hotel-convention center.

College Station believes there's much rhyme to their reasoning on creating a tax increment reinvestment zone: make College Station a destination.

"There are a number of associations in the state of Texas who are looking for cities our size to bring their annual conventions," said Councilmember Ben White. "The university brings many, many conventions to the area."

With Thursday's unanimous approval, the potential arises for $25-28 million of tax revenue to go towards paying off the debt that will come as a result of development.

College Station is looking for the county to go in on the TIRZ with them. The zone will last for 30 years, though it would dissolve if the debt is made up before then. The county would also not be required to remain a part of the zone for the duration. Commissioners had expressed concern about the length of time they would have to contribute.

"We need participation from both the city and the county at some level to really make it a viable project," said the city's chief financial officer, Jeff Kersten, "and ultimately, that's what the city council is going to be working towards."

"Whether they agree to 20 years, whether they agree to 20 years but it's paid off sooner to cease and desist the agreement, they will," White said. "There will be a compromise, I feel sure."

The zone encompasses Northgate. It's bordered by the city of Bryan to the northwest, Texas A&M to the southeast, and runs from Wellborn Road to South College.

Included in Thursday's proposal were petitions from more than half of Northgate's businesses, all approving of what the city council approved.

Commissioners have the next say as to their involvement.

The project and finance plan would be up for approval by the TIRZ board in August or September. Nine members for that board were also chosen by the council Thursday, including State Senator Steve Ogden, Representative Fred Brown, and County Commissioner Kenny Mallard.

As a point of clarification, Kersten added that the terms TIRZ and TIF (tax increment finance) are all but the same.