Revised STAR bonds bill calls on taxpayers to pay for 'destination' store construction

Steve Korris Apr. 29, 2010, 12:42pm


SPRINGFIELD – Developers of University Town Center, already seeking about $1 billion in state subsidies, additionally plan to call on taxpayers to erect two huge stores.

Developers included public financing of "vertical improvements" for two "destination users" in a draft of a bill to replace one that has made no progress at the Legislature.

The draft defines destination user as a retail store with at least 150,000 square feet of sales floor and an initial capital investment of at least $30 million.

The draft eases eligibility for state subsidies by shrinking the size from 600 acres to 350 acres and trimming the cost of the main attraction from $100 million to $60 million.

The original bill met resistance from regional mayors who feared that giant retail outlets at University Town Center, which would be built where Interstate 270 and Route 157 meet in Glen Carbon, would put stores in their communities out of business.

Lead developer Bruce Holland said on April 6 that the bill would be revised.

Mayors received copies of the new draft but the bill's sponsor, State Sen. James Clayborne (D-Belleville), had not introduced it as of April 29.

The draft contained no big changes from the original except the proposal to include buildings for two destination users.

The draft doesn't alter the financing plan, which calls for University Town Center to repay bonds with sales taxes that would normally flow to the state treasury.

Like the original bill, the draft seeks to offset local government revenue losses by directing some revenues to a regional trust fund.

The original bill provided for distribution to municipalities within 12 miles, but the draft expands the radius to 13 miles.

The extra mile would qualify more municipalities to share in the distribution, but it would not increase the amount in the fund.

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