By Travis Gulbrandson
Developments are progressing rapidly with the proposed Bliss Pointe development district.
On Monday, the Vermillion City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance establishing the district and created a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District for blocks one through six.
In April, the Vermillion Area Chamber & Development Company (VCDC) closed on the purchase of approximately 30 acres of developable farmland as a solution to the shortage of affordable single-family housing in the community.
“The VCDC has gone to great lengths to address the housing needs of the community,” said city engineer Jose Dominguez Monday night. “The development of the Bliss land will have a significant impact on housing options for families looking to relocate in Vermillion.”
The land in question extends approximately from Cherry Street to Main Street, and west to the railroad tracks. It is now owned by the VCDC.
According to the ordinance approved Monday night by the Vermillion City Council, the planned development district will be divided into four areas:
- Area A will consist of single-family detached dwellings;
- Area B will include a mix of single-family detached dwellings and single-family attached dwellings by conditional use permit;
- Area C will include multiple family housing; and
- Area D will have some light commercial, primarily office, retail and restaurant uses.
The final plat of the district – which also was approved Monday night – is organized into six individual blocks, said Steve Howe, executive director of the VCDC during a special meeting Monday afternoon.
“That’s going to allow us the flexibility that when we do start development, we can then go in and final plat the individual lots, versus a final plat of the entire thing,” Howe said. “Then we would be pretty much hemmed into that.”
Howe added that covenants will be in place to make sure that development is controlled the way the VCDC wants.
“It’s not going to be something … where people can just come in and put whatever they want wherever they want,” he said. “We want to make sure that it’s a very livable area.”
That goal is to attract families to the area, he added.
The VCDC has been in contact with interested developers, who will be able to purchase lots from them. There will be approximately 114 residential lots.
“People aren’t going to be able to come in and buy a bunch of lots, hold them, raise the price, do that sort of thing,” Howe said. “A developer, if they want to come in and buy 10 lots, same rule. They’ve got to be building on them and doing stuff with them.
“We have been getting quite a bit of interest – not only from the single-family homebuilder – about when lots are going to be available. Whether they actually come through, you never know, but anecdotally, there is a lot of interest,” he said.
The VCDC has been actively working with large-scale developers to build townhome units.
Howe said they will keep the costs down by constructing multiple units at a time.
“There’s a lot of interest in townhome units,” he said.
A TIF District was also established for Blocks 1 through 6, which City Manager John Prescott said would help to fund public improvements such as streets, the water and the sewer line.
“The increment that is gained from the taxes funds improvements that take place,” Prescott said. “(Funds) would come to the city, and then would be turned back to the VDCD to help them pay for the cost of the improvements.”
While the TIF district was created Monday, a TIF plan still needs to be developed and presented to the city planning commission and city council, Prescott said.
“The TIF plan will spell out exactly how we would propose to use the increase that is raised,” he said.
“Hopefully by Aug. 5 you’ll see a final TIF plan and wrapping up all those loose ends,” Howe said Monday afternoon. “After that, we still have to identify the funding sources and all that sort of thing, but we’re getting really close to being able to say, ‘Go.’”