Aldermen OK development agreement with Sears building, table $1 million rebate on 54th and Broadway proposal

Trevor Beck

Trevor Beck, standing at podium, speaks to the Quincy City Council during Monday's meeting at the Quincy Regional Training Facility. | David Adam

QUINCY — The Quincy City Council agreed to a retail redevelopment agreement with one local developer but chose to table for one week a retail development agreement with an out-of-town developer.

After Monday’s meeting at the Quincy Regional Training Facility, Quincy Mayor Mike Troup said the tax plan used to work with the local developer might be an option to help convince aldermen to approve the proposal with the out-of-town development.

Aldermen unanimously approved a request by Tom Marx of Marx Commercial Properties and Development Company for $250,000 from the Mid-Town Business District (MTBD) fund to help finance the redevelopment of the former 70,000-square-foot Sears store, 3400 Quincy Mall. Marx is investing an estimated $2.445 million into the building, which would house a major national retailer. Marx said in a May 21 letter to aldermen the tenant wants to open by Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving — in 2024.

The Mid-Town Business District, formed in March 2021, places a 1 percent retail sales tax on businesses in an area bordered by Broadway, College, 30th Street and 34th Street. Chuck Bevelheimer, director of planning and development, told aldermen a one-cent hospitality tax could be added if a hotel were to be built in the district. Bevelheimer said the tax collected — by the city — is about $11,000 a month.

The first expenditure of Mid-Town Business District funds was $100,000 to Cullinan Properties for the replacement of the roof on the Quincy Medical Group building at the Quincy Town Center. The second expenditure was on the northeast corner of 30th and Broadway to help with the construction of 6,000 square feet of retail space that now houses Verizon, Pancheros and a future Jersey Mike’s.

Aldermen weren’t as quick to approve a proposal from Omaha, Neb.-based developer Jim Otis, who hopes to place four restaurants and a gas station/convenience store at a nearly eight-acre lot on the northeast corner of 54th and Broadway. He wants to receive a $1 million sales tax rebate from the City of Quincy.

The Finance Committee approved on June 10 sending the proposal to the full City County for a vote. The deal was to be based on the sales tax revenue collected from the businesses in the development and is structured similarly to how the city made the deal on the former Kmart property on the northeast corner of 36th and Broadway to attract Target, which opened last year.

The proposal called for the city and Otis to split sales tax revenue for the first 10 years or until Otis receives $1 million. After he receives his money, the city would then receive all sales tax revenue moving forward. 

Otis previously said the justification for the incentive is the material used to fill a large hole on the site wasn’t placed correctly and must be removed. The removal of that material is driving up the cost of the sale of the property. Adams County tax records show the property is owned by the Edgar W. Campbell Trust of Greenville. Campbell, who lived on the property at 504 N. 54th, died in 2010 at age 86. 

Otis has said typically only restaurants “can afford to pay the highest rent” on high-priced ground.

Three local businessmen spoke to aldermen about their concerns with the Otis proposal during the public comment portion of the meeting.

“I have no problem with competition. Nobody does,” said Gabe McClean, owner of the Silver Dollar-GRM at 7403 Broadway. “Why are we giving somebody a million dollars? All it’s going to hurt … is the mom-and-pop places that have been here forever, struggling to find help. I just don’t know why we have to give a million-dollar incentive to get somebody to come to town. They already get the first exit when they get off the ramp, and they’re the first person (someone sees) when they get on Broadway.”

Local businessman Adam Booth said he didn’t think it was a “fair competition” for the city to devote so much money to the Otis project.

“When the developer comes to (the city) wanting a million dollars to fix the bad fill, why are the city taxpayers paying that?” Booth said. “That should be an issue between the seller and buyer. … If they can’t make that work, then the seller needs to drop their price.”

Booth suggested the city propose a deal like the one that aldermen approved with Marx.

“If you’re dead set on doing something, look at something like you did at the mall,” he said. “Do a one-percent additional sales tax. Then it’s fair competition. They’re not at an advantage. You’re not competing with the existing restaurants and businesses that have been here. … I think you’re going to have a lot fewer businesses here upset about the process.”

Trevor Beck, vice president of Town and Country Bank Midwest and a local developer, echoed Booth’s sentiment.

“Fair competition means a lot, and especially in the city of Quincy, where there’s a certain amount of people,” he said. “I wish Quincy was on a 40,000 to 50,000 to 60,000 or 70,000 population growth, but it’s not. I wish that it was, but the (local) restaurants are starving for help right now. I’ve got to stand behind these guys who know that when it comes to hard work and getting hard workers, it’s very tough right now.

“I don’t think the city should be getting involved in subsidizing development, especially in a prime spot like 54thand Broadway. The fill was done improperly, but that shouldn’t be on the taxpayer to foot the bill for that.”

Aldermen then voted to table the Otis proposal for one week.

Troup said after the meeting that “good questions were brought up” in the public comment portion of the meeting. He said Otis was not available to answer questions on Monday.

“We will follow up with him and express some of the items that were raised today,” Troup said. “Let’s see what we can do to modify the agreement. We’ve talked originally with the Otis development group about something like that (Mid-Town Business District) deal that if you want to have a special one percent tax, and then after you raise X dollars, it expires.

“Could we do that out there (at 54th and Broadway)? I don’t know how easily, but to answer that specifically, yes, you could. The property owner would have to agree to it. I know Jim Otis has an agreement or an option to purchase with the seller at a specific number of dollars. Can they go back and renegotiate that?”

Quincy Mayor Mike Troup speaks during Monday’s City Council meeting. At left is City Clerk Laura Oakman. | David Adam

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