The Jacksonville City Council approved an extension of a key designation to spur property development on the former MacMurray College campus.
Bonnie Waters of the Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation gave a brief presentation to the council during a public hearing last night detailing how an extension of the city’s enterprise zone would benefit property owners in their efforts to revitalize and maintain the buildings on the 174-year old campus: “The building materials sales tax exemption is one of the benefits. Any building materials that they purchase can be purchased with the sales tax abated. However, it will require any work that’s done will require a building permit [from the city] to be eligible for that. If you are a property owner and your business is industrial or commercial, you, the property owner, can make an application to have the property tax on the increase in assessed value abated. It does have to go through our office to get that to qualify. It’s an abatement of 3 years at 100%, and then the tax increase is 20% until the 8th year it becomes fully taxable. I really want the enterprise zone so that the MacMurray properties can be viable again, and get on the tax rolls. They’ve never been on the tax rolls because it was a college. We would like to see that, and enable the property owners to be able to make upgrades to their properties.”
Waters says that many of the new property owners on the former campus did not realize how much maintenance and renovation would be required to get some of the buildings up to current code, and that an extension to the enterprise zone would allow them to recoup some of the costs.
Mike Hayes, one of the property owners on the campus, says the designation of the enterprise zone is the difference between getting something major done and letting the buildings just sit in some cases: “The enterprise zone can be the difference between us taking on a project and not. I mean it saves us [money]. You get a sales tax abatement for basically all of the building materials, and then we get some tax relief for the first three years, and actually it extends into Year Eight. It ramps up over time, but when you run the numbers, it makes a difference between some things happening and not happening. It will definitely create some new opportunities for that [area]. We are not planning any major changes that will change the aesthetics of the property at all – just really improvements to the buildings that need to occur. Some of the buildings were in worse shape than we thought. Some are going to need more money put into them. This will allow us to do some things that we may not have been able to do before.”
The 55 acres of ground has seen some extensive usage since the college’s closure.
Hayes believes that even more projects will be coming in the future, especially now that property owners have the Enterprise Zone to rely on for some tax relief and an ability to recoup renovation costs.