Goal of land deal kept quiet

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 2, 2003

The city of Albert Lea will sell a two-acre parcel of land to Greater Jobs, Inc. with hopes that a business prospect will strike a deal with the organization to develop the land.

The city council approved the creation of a tax-increment-finance (TIF) district on the land, near Sykes Avenue and Ekko Street on the city’s north side, last week. At the time, Assistant City Manager Bill Schmitt said the city was buying the land and then selling it to Greater Jobs, but the city already owned the land, which it obtained through a tax forfeiture, City Manager Paul Sparks said this week.

TIF districts are designed to capture extra property taxes from a development and use the money to help finance the project. In this case, the funds from the TIF district will pay the city for the land. The city will sell the land for $140,000, Sparks said.

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He confirmed that Greater Jobs is in discussions with a prospect for the land, but said the name of the company and details of the possible project are not being released yet. Greater Jobs, not the city, is handling the negotiations with the potential developer.

&uot;It’s between them and the prospect,&uot; Sparks said.

City Councilman George Marin said the city and Greater Jobs do not want to jeopardize a deal by making details public too early.

&uot;At times, you wish you could share more information with the public, but for the sake of good business, you have to wait until the right time,&uot; Marin said.

The city council voted unanimously Sept. 22 to create the TIF district. The council will hold a public hearing on the district at its next meeting. After the TIF district is complete, the city can sell the land to Greater Jobs.

Greater Jobs is a private economic-development organization that contracts with the city and often cooperates with the port authority and city council on development projects.

Pam Bishop, executive vice president of Greater Jobs, did not return phone calls.

(Contact Dylan Belden at dylan.belden @albertleatribune.com or 379-3433.)