By Barnett Wright
The Birmingham Times
The County Commission approved on the consent agenda $67,293 in sales/use taxes and $578,139 in brownfield property taxes for the seven-story development, which is expected to house up to 400 residents and will be built atop a brownfield site bordered by 13th and 14th Streets South and Fourth and Fifth Avenues South.
Next Chapter Properties, the Chicago-based real estate developer overseeing the project, said the tax breaks would offset $1.5 million in environmental cleanup and mitigation costs.
Trey Hill, an attorney with the Bradley law firm, told a Jefferson County Committee of the Whole the developer will have to have incur “significant environmental mitigation costs” to ready the site, including roughly $1.1 million of the $1.5 million to excavate, haul off and dispose of four feet of contaminated soil.
Cleaning up the brownfield is an important part of the agreement, said county officials.
“That it’s a brownfield made it more important to take an unused parcel of property to be able to redo it to make it profitable for us,” said Steve Ammons, chair of the Jefferson County Commission’s Economic Development Committee. “For a new buyer not responsible for the contamination, this is a great risk, but without (the cleanup), blight would be significantly higher across the city. Therefore, the incentives process is crucial for their redevelopment and our county’s revitalization.”
The project could generate an estimated $2.9 million in property and sales/use taxes and sewer impact fee revenues over the first 10 years of the project, county officials said.
Also, “UAB also wants to expand its student population significantly over the next couple of years and this falls into part of that plan for them to have available (housing) with them running out of dorm space,” Ammons said.
Hill said the development will have “169 apartment units and … a host of related amenities — sunroom, bicycle parking, fitness center, courtyard, pool, rooftop terrace.”
The site could include 4,500 square feet of retail, commercial space and possibly a grab-and-go restaurant service for both tenants and the public, he added.
The approval came after the city of Birmingham on Tuesday authorized tax exemptions of more than $600,000 while the state of Alabama has exempted the project from $269,171 in sales/use taxes and $370,541 in brownfield property taxes.
The company is expected to have about 100 construction workers on average throughout the 20-month construction period and once completed have done three fulltime and five part-time employees on site to manage the housing development, Hill said.
Construction on the project could begin by the end of 2020 or early 2021, with plans to be ready for the 2022 school year at UAB, he added.
It was the second notable economic development announcement in the past two weeks in the Birmingham area, coming on the heels of the tax abatements for a 290,000-square-foot distribution facility on a 46.01-acre site off Lakeshore Parkway where FedEx will invest nearly $40 million in the project, which sits on the Birmingham-Bessemer boundary and is expected to create close to 300 jobs.