By BRADEN LAMMERS
The first step was cleared Wednesday for a tax abatement that could bring about 120 jobs with average salaries of $100,000 to Jeffersonville.
Rivera Consulting Group’s application for a tax abatement to build a 32,000-square-foot headquarters in the North Port Business Centre, near Port and Middle roads, was approved by the Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission.
“We want to build a corporate facility here, so we can bring our folks home,” said Joey Rivera, CEO and president of Rivera Consulting Group. The company has a facility in Sellersburg.
Rivera said the company, which develops software and cyber security systems for the federal government, currently employees about 100 people in 10 states. The construction of a headquarters in Jeffersonville would give the company a central location. The total project cost is estimated at about $6 million, with an expected investment in personal property of about $1 million, of which $750,000 is slated for computer equipment and development efforts. The company expects to employ 120 people with a total payroll of more than $10.6 million.
Redevelopment Commission Attorney Les Merkley said the abatement would still need to go before the City Council for approval. It is expected to be on the council’s agenda on Monday.
The abatement application was approved 3-1 with Redevelopment Commissioner Jack Vissing voting against and Commissioner Kevin LaGrange absent from the meeting.
10TH STREET WIDENING CONTRACT APPROVED
A $1 million contract for consulting and land acquisition was approved by the redevelopment commission after a host of financing questions were raised.
The contract, with LPA Consulting, would pay for the appraisal and acquisition of more than 100 properties that need to be purchased for the city to move forward on a $17 million plan to widen 10th Street.
The plan is to widen 10th Street to two lanes in each direction, with a center turn lane, including sidewalks from Penn Street and Dutch Lane, to Reeds Lane. The corridor is expected to see a major increase in traffic when the Ohio River Bridges Project is complete as it is a main thoroughfare between the new east-end bridge and downtown bridge.
The Indiana Department of Transportation is paying for 80 percent of the project through the design and rights-of-way purchase phase — through the Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency — with a 20 percent match from the city.
City Engineer Andy Crouch said KIPDA has designated up to $2 million for this portion of the project, leaving Jeffersonville on the hook for $500,000 and any expenses above a $2 million cap. He added that through the acquisition process about five homes will need to be purchased.
But Redevelopment Commissioner Rick Stevens asked about the next phase of the project, the road construction.
“I know this needs to be done, but if we can’t determine who’s going to pay for it or come to an agreement there’s no reason to do this work, in my mind,” Stevens said.
Merkley said the two options for paying for the next stage of the project would be either through Tax Increment Finance dollars or via federal funding if more money is available.
Construction is tentatively set to begin in 2016.
The contract was approved 3-0, with Vissing abstaining because he owns a property that is to be acquired as part of the project.
A restaurant and brewery planned on Spring Street, near the intersection with Chestnut Street, asked for money from a redevelopment loan be released.
The Red Yeti Brewing Co. received a $50,000 forgivable restaurant loan through he redevelopment commission. However, Paul and Brandi Ronau, the husband-and-wife owners of Red Yeti, said they have run into more problems than expected renovating the 3,000-square-foot historic building into a restaurant, bar and brewery.
Brandi Ronau explained that the restaurant owners are attempting to continue work on the restaurant, but it is slowing down because they don’t have the funding available to pay the contractors upfront. She added the building is currently about 50 percent complete.
A stipulation was previously put on the loan money by the commission that the business have a liquor license before the funds were released.
Jeffersonville Urban Enterprise Association Executive Director Kelly Phillips said when the Ronaus went to apply for their liquor license, they were approved, subject to final inspections of all the renovations. Paul Ronau said a hearing has been set to receive the liquor license in December.
But regardless of the liquor license, Phillips said the Red Yeti meets the requirements for the loan program.
“They are also a restaurant,” she said. “They fully intend on being a brewery, but whether or not they have alcohol they’re still going to have bodies in seats at a restaurant. They’re still generating activity on Spring Street.”
The redevelopment commission agreed to release 50 percent of the invoices billed that totaled $18,479, with Commissioner James Lake abstained from the vote because the architectural firm he works for drafted some plans for the brewpub.
The Ronaus said they are hopeful for a January opening, but could not offer a definitive timeline for an opening date.