SIKESTON - The Sikeston City Council approved an extension of a Tax Increment Funding agreement to June 30 for Novus Development, current owners of the former Missouri Department of Transportation building at Main and Malone, to facilitate an alternate redevelopment plan.
Novus representatives updated city officials during Wednesday's special city council meeting on their progress seeking a redevelopment project for the property.
On April 5, 1999, the city entered into a redevelopment agreement with Novus Development by which Novus was to develop the former MoDOT site with a retail grocery store there.
The original TIF agreement had an initial expiration date of June 30, 2000, later extended twice in six-months increments.
In June 2001, Novus assigned its development rights at the site to Main and Malone Development, a corporation established by Memphis developer Sandy Thomason who at the time was working with the Kroger grocery store chain on a potential store in Sikeston.
When Kroger abandoned its plans for a Sikeston store, Thomason returned development rights to Novus.
Jonathan Brown, president of Novus Development, said while a retail grocery store would be "the highest and best use for that site," he predicted "there will not be a grocery store there ... in the foreseeable future" since Wal-Mart expanded to sell retail groceries.
Brown said a drugstore replacing a retail grocery store as anchor for the strip center would be the next best use for the site. "Walgreens has always expressed an interest in the site," said Brown. He explained the drug store was left out of previous plans because grocery stores didn't want to compete with Walgreens.
Novus will "wait with fingers crossed" to hear the results of Walgreens' site visit slated for February, according to Brown.
Brown said the new proposed development could also possibly include a Steak and Shake restaurant.
If Walgreens turns out to not be interested, Novus would then need to pursue "an entirely different development at that point," Brown said, possibly considering that "adaptive reuse of the existing structure would be the next best thing."
In other Sikeston City Council business:
* An amendment to Municipal Code which permits the municipal judge to assess costs incurred for interpreter services to the defendant was approved by Council.
"Our not-English speaking population is growing," said Linda Lowes, director of governmental services.
Interpreter costs, which usually run about $50 per day, will now be passed on to the defendant in the form of additional court costs, according to Lowes.
* Council approved an ordinance requiring merchants to be current on all municipal obligations before being issued a current city business license.
Carroll Couch, city clerk, said his office noticed during the last license collection period that some merchants were applying for business license renewals while remaining delinquent in other obligations to the city - chiefly the tourism tax.
The ordinance will apply to all obligations to the city including real estate and personal property taxes, court fines, building permits and even outstanding water and power bills. "This covers all of it," said Couch.
* Council members approved an agreement with the Sikeston Public School District for the construction and maintenance of a walking track to be located north of the Sikeston Middle School.
Under the terms of the joint resolution, which still must be signed by the school district to go into effect, the city and school would cooperate on the design and share the costs of building and maintaining the community recreational site.
* The bid to lease city-owned farms near the power plant and industrial park was awarded to Rob Newman of Newman Farms as recommended by the bid review committee consisting of Tom Bridger, Bill Green, Mike Marshall, David Lape and Scott Matthews.
Bids were opened Nov. 21 and reviewed by the bid committee on Monday.
Newman bid $76 per acre for the 260-acre Moore Farm located near the industrial park and bid $70 per acre for the 393-acre Rose Farm near the industrial park and for the 175 acres near the Sikeston Power Plant.
Both the bid committee and council cited Newman's farming experience as the reason for their choice.
* "The AWOS system is moving along," reported Tom Bridger, public works director.
Bridger said a site has been picked and approved for the Automated Weather Observation System at the Sikeston Airport.
Council approved agreements with the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission for the installation and maintenance of the AWOS and an agreement with the Bootheel Golf Club to provide an easement for the AWOS clear zone.
* Council approved renewal of the city's group health insurance plan with Alliance Blue Cross Blue Shield.
The 9-percent increase in premiums beginning Jan. 1 should be taken as good news, according to Karen Bailey, deputy city clerk, in light of a national trend of increases between 25 to 30 percent.
The fiscal impact for Fiscal Year 2002 is expected to be an additional $30,000 but will be offset by $12,000 saved by not renewing an agreement with Brooke Insurance Agency which Board of Municipal Utility and city officials agree has not benefited BMU or the city.
* Bridger discussed implementing special use permits for zoning restriction exceptions in transitional districts as recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission. The matter is slated to come up for action by Council at the regular Dec. 3 meeting.