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City approves abatements for individual property owner

BY SHARON BARDONNER - sbardonner@ftimes.com

The Frankfort City Council took the unprecedented step Monday to approve tax abatements for three properties owned not by a corporation but by Dr. Jill Snyder, a local property developer rehabilitating three buildings in the city's downtown. 

The addresses on which tax abatements will be allowed are 6-8 S. South Main St., 2 S. Main St. and 51 W. Clinton St., each more than 100 years old and all located within the same city block downtown. 

According to Snyder's attorney, Jay Moore, who presented the requests to the council, the second story of the building at 6-8 Main St. will be rehabbed into three upscale apartment units that will compete with those proposed by Iron Men Properties for its Nickel Plate Apartments.

"But these will be more historic," said Moore.

The building at the corner of West Clinton Street and South Main will be renovated to feature high-end professional offices or retail businesses on the first floor and four apartments upstairs, Moore explained. The second-story apartments will connect to those at 6-8 S. Main.

Renovations are nearly completed on the first floor and the mezzanine of 51 W. Clinton St., which will be an event center to be used for weddings, business meetings, family reunions, conferences and other gatherings.

Weddings, for example, will be served by local caterers, photographers, and florists, providing a lot of side benefits to businesses in the city, said Moore. 

Eight to 11 hotel rooms will be built on the second floor to accommodate wedding guests, out-of-town relatives attending reunions and others booking overnight stays.

According to the investment information Moore furnished to council members, Snyder's estimated total outlay to rehabilitate the three properties is $1.39 million, of which $784,121 has already been spent. That leaves about $606,000 remaining to be put into upgrades and the build-outs, along with an additional $200,000 to be invested in 51 W. Clinton St. that Moore said had not been included in the original figures provided to the council finance committee.

Snyder had asked that the 51 West property's abatement be extended to 10 years, compared to the 7-year abatements requested for the other two addresses. However, based on recommendations from members of the council's finance committee - Eric Woods, Steve Beardsley and Jim Moyer - a motion was made and seconded to allow a seven-year abatement for each location. 

A statement of benefits is typically required with any abatement request but, Moore said, that statute does allow that part of the process to be completed after construction has already begun.

"It would be nice to set a precedent on this," said Woods, noting that abatements usually rely on the number of jobs being created, the level of improvement projects and the value of the benefit to the city and the company. 

In this case, however, Woods said he felt his role as a member of the finance committee was to present a fair recommendation to the full council and take seriously any tax revenue reduction the abatements represented. 

It was also noted that a public hearing will be held when the full details of the abatements are finalized so anyone objecting to the proposal could express their views at that time.