WORTHINGTON — Voting in front of a full room, the Worthington City Council unanimously approved Monday night the establishment of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district to help fund redevelopment of the Hotel Thompson property.

The next course of action, Worthington City Administrator Steve Robinson explained Tuesday, will be the preparation of a development agreement between the city and Clark Unlimited Properties in which financial need for the project is established. Clark Unlimited Properties, operated out of North Carolina by Worthington natives Robert Buysse and Mitch Clark, purchased the downtown building last fall.

“A TIF usually provides an incentive to help make this a positive investment for the developer,” Robinson said.

In considering the TIF, the city concluded the following:

  • The city's estimate of the amount by which the market value of the entire district will increase without the use of tax increment financing is $0.

  • If the proposed development occurs, the total increase in market value will be $6,216,100.

  • The present value of tax increments from the district for the maximum duration of the district permitted by the TIF plan is estimated to be $2,426,490.

  • Even if some development other than the proposed development were to occur, the council finds that no alternative would occur that would produce a market value increase greater than $3,789,601 without tax increment assistance.

Among other findings included in the TIF resolution are that the TIF district conforms to the general plan for the development or redevelopment of the municipality as a whole; and that the Hotel Thompson will afford maximum opportunity, consistent with the sound needs of the city as a whole, for the development or redevelopment by private enterprise.

Buysee attended Monday’s meeting to talk about the Hotel Thompson’s future.

“We originally thought it was going to be a two-year project,” Buysse said. “We hope to do better than that. … We’ll probably have this project finished in a year and a half rather than two years.”

Depending on financing and other factors, Buysse speculated the building may be occupiable in the lobby area by King Turkey Day in September. He also said that while his company could “go in and lowball the project and go in and do the basics,” its goals for the site are loftier.

“We’re taking it quite a bit beyond that, and what we want to do is bring this property back to some of its former glory,” Buysse said. “It may not be the best business decision in the world, but that’s the way we want to do it.”

Kyle Johnson, co-owner of Johnson Builders and Realty, is working with Clark Unlimited Properties on the Hotel Thompson. He’s excited about the way the project has been transpiring and the ultimate end result.

“I think the TIF is a great tool to make something like this happen,” Johnson said.

In a separate matter Monday, the council — acting as the city’s Economic Development Authority — opted to divide a 2.2-acre property along U.S. 59 south of 27th Street. A party identified by Robinson as interested in opening an ag-related business (he’s unaware of additional details) would have the option to purchase one of two lots, rather than the original 2.2 acres.

The property is located north of Interstate 90, near Bedford Technologies and in close proximity to the new Frito Lay Distribution Center. Discussion Monday centered upon .58 acres of frontage that’s part of the 2.2 total acres but cannot be built upon. With the split, values for the individual parcels will now need to be re-established.

In other business Monday, the council approved:

  • A pair of conditional use permits (CUP) for Independent School District 518 property, following recommendation from the Worthington Planning Commission. The first of the two CUPs allows the use of a field, buildings and grandstands in the floodplain at Trojan Field. The second gives the go-ahead to construct a second-story addition of 11,740 square feet — as well as a physical outward expansion of approximately 510 square feet for an elevator and staircase — to the Worthington High School building.

  • Proposed rental fee adjustments at Worthington Event Center and 2020 YMCA program fees.

  • An agreement between the city and Patricia Arnt (doing business as The Beach Nook) that would allow Arndt to operate The Beach Nook through September 30, 2025. After that date, Arnt will have the right to renew the agreement at its current terms.

“She’s putting a substantial amount of her own money into this,” council member Alan Oberloh noted. “She’s pretty excited about getting things going and getting stuff ordered.”

“She’s done an excellent job,” Director of Public Works Todd Wietzema added.

  • The first reading of an ordinance that would allow for outdoor seating areas for businesses on private property. Separately, Robinson said, city staff is working on a provision to address the downtown area for businesses to have access to use the public sidewalk.

  • The first reading of a change of zone of approximately 2.15 acres the city owns north of Sutherland Drive and approximately 120 feet west of Sterling Avenue. The change will rezone the property from its current “TZ” designation to “R-1,” and would allow for the construction of additional single-family homes.