Members of the City Council on Tuesday afternoon had a number of questions about a proposed city TIF (Tax Increment Financing) to extend MLK Boulevard across Riverfront Parkway to the Riverwalk.
Councilman Chip Henderson asked about a TIF being in a "blighted area" and if any construction had started by a Nashville developer at the site.
Councilman Russell Gilbert questioned whether funds from the hotel/motel tax could be used for the project instead.
Teresa McCallie of a citizen watchdog group said the location is "Cameron Harbor - which is among one of the most expensive sites in our city."
Helen Burns Sharp, of the same group, said the city was going on "a slippery slope" in having the TIF pay part of the construction by the developer. It would include $500,000 toward apartments at the site.
Some apartment units are to be set aside at reduced rates as long as the TIF is in effect, it was stated.
Ms. Sharp said work is underway on both the apartments and a medical building at the site.
Cherita Allen, of city economic development, said the developer would not have allowed the city to extend the road directly across from the current end of MLK Boulevard without the TIF.
John Konvalinka, an attorney for Accountability for Taxpayer Money, said the whole four-parcel TIF area cannot pass the "but for" test and is thus invalid. But for refers to the fact the development would not go forward without the aid of a TIF.
Daisy Madison, city finance director, said hotel/motel funds would not be appropriate for that section of the riverfront. She said it was intended they were to be used in the vicinity of the Aquarium, where a number of projects were funded by those tax proceeds.
She said the ongoing hotel/motel tax receipts go to pay off the original bonds for that section of the 21st Century Waterfront and for later bond issues.
Councilman Darrin Ledford questioned what the developer originally had in mind for improvements on Ninth Avenue, a narrow street that leads to the river just south of the end of MLK Boulevard.
Ms. Allen said the city's aim is to line up the roadway with MLK Boulevard and have a handsome boulevard with landscaping, sidewalks and bikeways going to a Riverwalk trailhead.
The proposal next goes to the city Industrial Development Board for a hearing on Feb. 12 at 11 a.m.