Developers of a major river front condominium-hotel-office project got a big tax break from Saskatoon city council Monday in a move expected to cost the city around $4.7 million.
Council approved a five-year tax abatement for office space set to go up as part of a multi-million dollar project on Parcel YY, the section of land next to the future Remai Modern Art Gallery.
“All we’ve asked for is what every other developer in downtown Saskatoon qualifies for,” said Blair Sinclair, vice president of developer Triovest.
The abatement means developers will pay property tax on each phase of the project as though the land was undeveloped for five years after each phase is complete. Businesses in the downtown core already receive abatement of up to five years, but Parcel YY is one block off from being included in the downtown.
Coun. Charlie Clark was the only one to vote against the abatement, saying the city has already offered enough incentives to develop the land and developers knew what they were getting into when they bought the property.
“At that time (of purchase) there wasn’t an expectation of those additional tax abatements,” Clark said. “I really want to see development there. I just feel like we keep modifying and bending more and more to foster it, and we’re still not seeing it happening.”
In an unprecedented vote, council also approved an indefinite grant to developers to reimburse them for property taxes on a proposed public plaza that would be maintained by the private owners.
Clark, along with Coun. Mairin Loewen, also voted against the plaza property tax rebate, though Clark said he was comforted by the fact the grant will be reviewed every year to make sure the public has reasonable access to the plaza.
Administration said they estimate the condominium-hotel-office project will cost around $300 million and property tax over five years would equal $5.8 million. The undeveloped land would generate around $1.1 million in property taxes over five years, meaning the city will lose out on $4.7 million in property taxes with the abatement.
Blair Sinclair said he expects to start construction on the condo and business parkade this summer, something Mayor Don Atchison fully expects will signal that the rest of the project is on the horizon.
“I don’t believe the developers are going to build a parkade that doesn’t in fact include their hotel and condo site as well,” he said.