NEW ALBANY — Traffic was backed up Tuesday afternoon on St. Joseph Road as motorists waited to turn their vehicles onto a few feet of Kamer Miller Road before traversing onto Charlestown Road.
It’s a typical sight at the busy intersection, but city officials have plans to improve the congestion through a project that could begin next year.
To foot those costs, the New Albany Redevelopment Commission is proposing an expansion of the Charlestown Road tax-increment financing district. Under the plan, which received initial approval from the commission Tuesday, seven parcels near the intersection would be added into the district.
Two of those properties already house commercial developments in a gas station and Cattlemen’s Steakhouse. The other five lots, according to New Albany Redevelopment Director Josh Staten, are among the few sites left in the city for new commercial developments north of the Interstate 265 interchange along Charlestown Road.
“Essentially this is a situation where the developments that will follow once the intersection is complete are only going in there because of the work on the intersection,” Staten said.
The scope and price of that work is being determined. Staten said city engineers are working with developers and other interested parties in determining the best path to take for the intersection.
But the plan is that the additional TIF revenue captured by expanding the district to include the seven additional properties will help recoup the costs of the intersection work while allowing the redevelopment commission to move forward with other projects slated for Charlestown Road.
Once a TIF district is declared, property taxes inside its boundaries are frozen. The entity that declares the TIF district, which would be the redevelopment commission in this case, typically makes infrastructure improvements and then gets to collect the additional tax revenue above the frozen rate amount.
The theory behind TIF financing is that commercial and residential developments wouldn’t locate within a district without the improvements. Several major projects in New Albany have been funded through TIF dollars. Staten said the Charlestown Road proposal wouldn’t extend the life of the district, as it’s currently set to expire in 2038.
The intersection improvements, once finalized, likely will begin on the west side of Charlestown Road near the Marathon gas station. The commission would also like to make some upgrades to the east entrance of Kamer Miller Road that serves as the entrance to Prosser Career Education Center and One Southern Indiana.
“If we’re going to continue to grow and continue to move that area of the city forward, we have to do some infrastructure work to support that growth and that’s what this project is about,” Staten said.
There are several steps in the process. It begins with the commission’s declaratory resolution, which it approved Tuesday. From there, the proposal will be considered by the New Albany Plan Commission before receiving an up-or-down vote by the New Albany City Council.
If the plan passes those steps, the redevelopment commission will take a final ballot before the district can be expanded.
District 6 Councilman Scott Blair represents the area that would be affected by the project and the TIF expansion. He said the upgrades to the intersection would be a “big positive” for that corridor.
“It should also help us with commercial property — bringing in some additional commercial developments in there and continuing to increase the funding through property taxes for the Charlestown Road TIF,” said Blair, who plans to support the proposal.
“There’s a big benefit with improving that access for commercial development.”