Jeff Cooper

COLLINSVILLE – City leaders would impose four new taxes on top of tax increment financing to help wealthy asbestos attorney Jeff Cooper build a soccer stadium, homes, stores and hotels where Interstate 55-70 crosses I-255.

On Sept. 10 the city council authorized a business district tax, a parking tax, an amusement tax and a hotel tax to repay bonds for Cooper.

They estimated that the new taxes would repay $35 million in debt.

Separately they plan tax increment financing, paying off Cooper's bonds by capturing all new property taxes from commercial development and half the new property taxes from residential development.

Along with four new taxes the city would support Cooper four other ways.

The city would:

  • Pay for infrastructure – roads, sewers, lights and the rest;

  • Reimburse Cooper's expenses;

  • Designate his 220 acre project as a federal enterprise zone to qualify him for grants, and the city would help him secure grants; and

  • Erect light-emitting billboards to catch the eyes of drivers on both interstate highways.

    The city would not issue Cooper's bonds. The Southwestern Illinois Development Authority would do that.

    The council gave Cooper 90 days to buy the land, file a rezoning petition and prepare a preliminary plat.

    They promised to annex the land in 180 days.

    Ferd Strackeljahn owns 103 acres on the site, Brian and Teresa Eckmann own 96 acres and A.R. Woods owns 21 acres.

    Cooper ranks among the nation's most successful attorneys in the lucrative practice of asbestos litigation.

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