MUSCATINE — After reconsidering a motion regarding the Carver Corner requests for proposal during Thursday’s meeting, the Muscatine City Council voted 5-2 to proceed with negotiations with Merge Urban Development Group, with two council members changing their votes from the Oct. 3 meeting.
During the Oct. 3 meeting, the same request was defeated 4-3. After the meeting, one of the people who voted in the majority asked the issue be brought up for reconsideration. Council members Santos Saucedo and Kelcey Brackett, both of whom voted against negotiations, voted to move ahead with negotiations. While it was not stated who requested the issue be reconsidered, Saucedo opened statements with a comment supporting the reconsideration.
“I did a lot more research in regards to this,” he said. Saucedo elaborated he had spoken with several elected officials from cities with Merge developments. All had praised Merge, with the Waterloo mayor saying he wished he had as much land to give Merge as Muscatine does. He had also been told the largest part of the financial risk would be on Merge. He said he hopes the city can continue to have discussions with Merge.
Council members Osmond Malcolm and Nadine Brockert both repeated their votes against continuing with negotiations. Both also voted against reconsidering the original vote.
Brockert commented she had heard many good things about Merge, but did not feel the project was the right development for the area. Malcolm said he is uncomfortable with the offer.
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“I think it’s going to cost us more than we’re going to get,” he said. “The numbers don’t add up for me. They say we are going to end up with this amount of money, but if you have worked with this sort of thing at all, you know it doesn’t end up that way.”
According to the rules of the city council, a motion to reconsider is allowed if the request comes from someone who voted in the majority.
Merge was the only respondent to the City of Muscatine’s request for proposals for the redevelopment of the approximately seven acre Carver Corner area. The proposal will bring a $52 million investment into Muscatine. According to a press release from the city, the support of the council is important to Merge, as they are looking for a long-term commitment to the project.
The proposed mixed use development would include over 300 mixed use residential units and about 20,000 square feet of first-floor rental space. The proposed development would increase the taxable value of the property by about $32 million. Based on current tax rates, an additional $218,773 in taxes would be collected for Muscatine County; $325,141 for the Muscatine School District; and $368,402 for the city. The area is in a Tax Increment Finance district, but no discussion has been made about the funds generated.
During the Oct. 3 meeting, supporters of a Peace Park initiative also spoke in favor of building the park on that site.