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Posted on: March 28, 2023

No Easy Solution to Aggieville Challenges

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Manhattan is facing one of these in Aggieville. Back 9 Development recently had to put its Midtown Project on hold because of external financial factors. Specifically, the company lost a key investor in the project. Back 9 Development is still moving forward and is working on several different scenarios that include a new financial partner or modified building.
The announcement set off a lot of online discussion. Here’s what we know. The City of Manhattan agreed to transfer the lot at 12th and Laramie to Back 9 under the conditions that it construct a project of no less than $40 million. This will generate significant revenue for the city’s Tax Increment Finance District, which captures additional property taxes in a defined area to help pay for the infrastructure in the Aggieville redevelopment overall project. If Back 9 does not complete a $40 million project, they owe the city $2.3 million as the acquisition cost for the property. You can find the agreement here (Item 5B of the April 19, 2022 agenda).

So, the City will receive either a significant TIF benefit (over $500,000 annually for up to 15 years) or will receive a payment for the property higher than its appraised value. While I’m sure all city officials want to see the project completed, it is a financial benefit to the city in either case.

However, there is the matter of access and parking. As we’ve mentioned here before, the parking situation is incredibly difficult by all accounts. While its true that there are more stalls in Aggieville today than a year ago, they are in some cases further from some establishments and there are individuals that either won’t walk the distance or will not use the new garage, citing confusion over how to pay.

The second garage was supposed to begin soon after the Midtown project started but it appears to also be on hold. It is also worth noting that many of the access challenges in the district are part of the entire Aggieville redevelopment and unrelated to the Midtown project specifically. These infrastructure improvements will be continuing over the next several years regardless of the project status.

Several ideas have been kicked around that deserve consideration. One idea was suggested by the Aggieville Business Association Board of Directors last week. According to an email we received from Dennis Cook, the ABA “is requesting the City waive parking fees in the parking garage through July 31.” The note says the move will help struggling businesses get through at least K-State graduation and would also give time to help educate the public on the use of the ParkMobile app, which is the suggested way to pay to use the Aggieville garage.

The request has been forwarded to city officials for review. There have been other ideas put forward as well. The Chamber’s Business Advocacy Committee and Board of Directors will look at any suggested solution for the challenges in the district and will let you know which, if any, we support. However, the main thing you can do to help is continuing to do business with your favorite Aggieville proprietor.

Again, there are no easy answers. But we should be working together on solutions. The Chamber is committed to helping however we can. In the meantime, think MHK, shop local and continue to visit Aggieville.

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