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Education

This is how Belleville is paying a $3 million price tag for the Lindenwood campus

 Lindenwood University's campus in Belleville. The city is using tax increment finance, or TIF, money to close the $3 million deal.
Mike Koziatek
/
Belleville News-Democrat
Lindenwood University's campus in Belleville. The city is using tax increment finance, or TIF, money to close the $3 million deal.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published by the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.

BELLEVILLE — The city of Belleville dipped into its TIF 3 District money to pay $3 million for the former Lindenwood University-Belleville campus.

Shortly after the City Council on Aug. 2 authorized city officials to buy the college property at 2600 W. Main St., Mayor Patty Gregory said a state grant would be used to pay for the $3 million price tag.

But that state money has not yet been released so the city used TIF, or tax increment finance, money to close the deal with Lindenwood on Sept. 16. TIF funds are supported by property taxes and city officials can use the money for various types of economic development.

Kathy Kaiser, a spokeswoman for the city, said Friday she could not release details regarding the state’s financial assistance with the Lindenwood purchase or the city’s negotiations to redevelop the site. This is the same position she has stated in recent weeks.

Lindenwood, which announced in 2019 that it was shutting down its full-time college program in Belleville, had listed the property for $10 million.

The St. Charles-based college bought the former Belleville West High School campus for $1 in 2003 as part of a development agreement with the city and Belleville School District 201.

Property insurance costs

Now that the city owns the property, it has to start paying for the insurance and upkeep of the vacant property while city officials work to find someone to either buy or lease the site.

Jamie Maitret, the city’s finance director, said on Friday the insurance bill for six months is expected to be about $200,000 to cover the property, which is valued at $25 million.

Lindenwood had insured the site as if it was valued at $85 million, Maitret said.

Maitret presented the insurance issue to the City Council’s Finance Committee Oct. 1.

“It’s not going to be pretty, I’m warning you right now,” Maitret told the aldermen. “They are vacant buildings. Insuring vacant buildings is a lot more expensive than insuring fully occupied buildings.”

Maitret declined to release the name of the insurance company because the agreement with the firm has not been finalized.

She also declined to comment on whether the city’s negotiations with a potential tenant or buyer of the campus would require the group or person to pay for the insurance costs that the city is about to undertake.

On Monday night, the City Council will be asked to approve the creation of a new budget fund called the campus fund so city officials can track the money spent at the site and any revenue that comes from it.

Aldermen also will consider three contracts worth a total of about $42,000 for maintenance services at the campus.

Mike Koziatek is a reporter with the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.

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