Emails indicate mayor, city administrator pushed TIF's for downtown apartments for past year

For more than a year, Bettendorf Mayor Bob Gallagher and City Administrator Decker Ploehn have been telling their economic development staff and developers they would support use of city tax incentives for projects involving downtown apartments.

In emails obtained by through a Freedom of Information request, both Gallagher and Ploehn were focused on redevelopment of eight apartment buildings in the downtown known collectively as the Carling Apartments.

Those private discussions may explain why the one-block Town Square redevelopment idea has morphed into a three-block concept which would encompass the eight apartment buildings, along with buildings housing Purgatory Pub, Scrub Pub Laundromat and Rodgers Industrial along Grant Street. The city owns the Town Square property – between State and Grant Streets and 20th and 21st Streets – but none of the other parcels.

The city sent out a Request For Proposal (RFP) for the Town Square block, and got back two proposals, one from Russell Companies of Davenport and the other from Newbury Living of Des Moines. Both covered the Town Square block, plus the two additional blocks with the Carling Apartments and two other commercial buildings.

The estimated cost to city taxpayers for the Town Square proposal from Russell is estimated at $15 million, while Newbury Living is seeking $8 million in city incentives for interest rate buy downs, land/demolition costs and tax rebates.

Both proposals call for a mixed use development of commercial and residential (apartments) for which they would seek federal/state senior housing and/or low income housing tax incentives. The full city council is to hear from the developers and ask question about their proposals at a special "work session" Monday (Oct. 26) at 12:30 p.m. for Newbury Living and 3 p.m. for Russell Companies.

In an email more than a year ago, June 24, 2014, Gallagher wrote then-city development director Steve Van Dyke saying that Ploehn "mentioned something about Mike Engleby (sic) wanting to get together to discuss Carling Apartments.

"I know we have discussed this and both have tried to get developer interest. Now that homes are being listed for sale in the flood plain due to insurance rate increases, the time is certainly right to try to serve that population.

"I doubt council will want to buy them. I was hoping a developer or consortium thereof would want to step up to do so. Certainly an incentive, like TIF (Tax Increment Financing) would be appropriate if used judiciously.

"Let me know what I can do to help."

Then, in an email last February to a local developer, Ploehn wrote: "Thanks for the note. . . I have no interest in providing a TIF for any apartments at the I-74 tech park. . . . I do have interest in a combination commercial/residential set of buildings in the downtown as we have talked about before. I won't consider combining them one for the other."

The owner of the eight apartment buildings is listed as Admiralty Place L.L.C. on the Scott County assessor's parcel listing. The limited liability corporation was "administratively dissolved" August 10 of this year for failing to file the required biennial report with the Iowa Secretary of State.

The Russell proposal lists Ingleby, an agent with Re/Max River Cities, Inc., as a partner in its proposal and says the Carling apartment buildings are "controlled" by him.

Ingleby also was listed as a "member" of Admiralty L.L.C. Tax bills for the apartment buildings are sent to Dave Delvechio, of 4112 Woodview Dr., Bettendorf.

The limited liability firm's "registered agent" from June 17, 2014 until the dissolution in August was David Millage of the law firm of Gallagher, Millage and Gallagher. Mayor Bob Gallagher and his father Robert Gallagher are partners in the firm.

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