City officials and an attorney for Wal-Mart took more steps toward
resolving a development agreement during last night's specially
called finance committee meeting.
It was last spring when the company approached the city with an
interest in annexing and rezoning a property into the city and an
offer to assist with infrastructure developments in the building
process. The company had narrowed its search to property that is
currently farm ground, located behind the Illini Bank on Route 10.
The process has been slow but purposeful for both the city and
Wal-Mart representatives. Engineers and lawyers from both sides have
made numerous stipulations and concessions during the months of
planning and negotiations. Changes have been made even since
alderman received their last updated agreement on Oct. 21, Bates
Wal-Mart has not purchased the property yet, and this raised
questions from Wanda Lee Rohlfs and other aldermen at last night's
meeting. Rohlfs questioned whether there is anything in the
agreement with Wal-Mart to protect city interests if the company
didn't build but left developable land sitting empty or if there
were provisions that would keep them from building on the property
for someone else.
Lincoln city attorney Bill Bates and the Wal-Mart attorney, Troy
Pudik of Peoria, explained details of the agreement and its
progression. Both lawyers assured the council that it is standard
protocol for Wal-Mart not to purchase property until late in the
process. They typically act quickly when details are worked out.
When everything is ready they run with it, Bill Bates said and Pudik
"They are still working on acquiring the land and working their
numbers," Bates said.
In assurance that the company is most interested in the expansion
in Lincoln, Pudik said, "It's an excellent project for Wal-Mart."
He added later, "Wal-Mart wants to get up and going as soon as
A primary issue in the agreement was a request from Wal-Mart that
the city rebate the city portion of sales taxes that are over and
above the average amount collected in the last three years, up to an
accumulated $600,000 plus interest. This has been amended to a
straight $600,000 rebate and, at the recommendation of Bates, the
committee found this acceptable.
Early projections indicate that this would take five years.
During that time the city would continue to receive the level of
sales taxes that they are receiving now, and once the rebate amount
was reached the city would begin receiving the full amount of sales
City engineer Mark Mathon said that he has seen in detail how
they arrived at the requested figure and it is reasonable.
The rebate will help Wal-Mart recoup some of the expense that
they are offering to accept in developing infrastructure going to
their site. In the agreement they have offered to take
responsibility to install sewer lines, drainage, roads and
waterlines. There would need to be some costly moves made to the
sewer lines running to current businesses as well as the additional
extension to their site.
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Route 10 would need left-hand lane work, intersections would need
widening, and Malerich Drive would need to be extended. The entrance
to the Illico-Illini Bank building would be improved with the
addition of a short drive, to be called Stuart Drive.
Wal-Mart will also be adding two detention ponds at their own
expense for their needs.
Crawford, Murphy and Tilly of Springfield is the engineering
company for the project.
The development of this infrastructure would not only benefit
Wal-Mart. Details such as including driveway entries to empty lots
would contribute to the development of other business properties in
the area. Certain types of businesses are known to follow Wal-Mart
Supercenters, and this would make it easier for the city to attract
They will be going to great expense on what will be public
property improvements, Bates said.
Another bonus to the city is that if and when Wal-Mart purchases
the land they are interested in buying, there is an additional 29
acres that they will not be using. The city asked for that property
to be turned over to them for future commercial development. Details
of that arrangement have undergone several modifications that, as of
this week, allow the city more latitude with the use of the
property. If need be, the city now has the opportunity to dispose of
the property, as in sell or give -- just as was done in the Sysco
project -- to another party.
The city is not at any risk to lose any money, Bates said.
The one investment the city is making is for an upgrade of the
area sewer lift station called Zion. However, this is a project that
is already in process and must be done anyway, Bates said.
The Zion lift station is scheduled to be completed by Dec. 31,
2006. Bids for that project are coming in now.
The agreement is full of timelines and limitations that protect
both Wal-Mart and the city. It ensures that Wal-Mart will begin and
finish building by specific dates.
In the agreement it says that Wal-Mart would begin building by
Dec. 21, 2007.
Discussion of the final plat and a development agreement were
tabled during the regular business session that followed the
Bates said that this would allow more time for questions from the
aldermen and then completion of the agreement.
The project will be discussed at the Nov. 15 work session, with
the intention of passing the agreement and the final plat at the
Nov. 21 business session.