Tipp Council discusses Tipp Plaza acquisition, interchange development


TIPP CITY — Prior to the regular session of the Tipp City City Council meeting, the council held a study session to discuss the state Route 571 and Interstate 75 interchange development and the new rates for the Tippecanoe Family Aquatic Center.

During the study session Monday evening, the council heard from Joe Truss who ran a feasibility report on the potential acquisition and development of two parcels of land known as the Tipp City Plaza.

The acquisition is going to be a difficult process, in the past the owner has not been receptive to the idea of selling the land to the city. To make matters more difficult, the buildings on the main parcel are all under a single open-ended mortgage. The open-ended mortgage makes it difficult to purchase parts on the land parcel.

The purchase cost of the land starts at however much has been borrowed from the $6,700,000 open-ended mortgage against the property. The Miami County Auditor 100% values the minimum acquisition price is determined to be $3,872,300 for both parcels of land. The feasibility analysis includes potential demolition costs of the existing buildings. Demolition costs are variable depending on structure, materials, environmental remediation and backfill and site work to provide a clean site. In the feasibility analysis, Truss assumes that demolition would include all of the structures, except CVS Pharmacy, which totals approximately 117,900-square-feet. He also estimated the cost per square foot of demolition to be $25-$35 per square foot.

Truss presented the council with three options to consider moving forward. Truss’ suggestion is to stay the course and continue with code enforcement and monitoring the property for activity that improves or degrades the property and allow the market to work. The other options Truss presented are to develop a public/private partnership with the current owner or to purchase and demolish the property in public/private partnership with a new developer. The partnership with the current owner could elicit a different response from the owner and more cooperation but would require the city to determine redevelopment funding it is willing to offer as incentive. The partnership with a new developer is the most expensive options and the option with the highest risk to the city. This plan would require the city to commit a minimum of $4 million to $6 million dollars with no guarantee that the investment will be returned by land sales and tax increment financing revenue.

The next steps, strongly recommended by Truss, are for the city to prepare for the possibility of land in the interchange area becoming available. he suggested that the council should contract a full-service development company, preferably a local one, to create a pre-development plan for the interchange area, including the Tipp City Plaza. Council should create a checklist of key factors they are looking for in a developer and find one that best suits the needs of the city.

He suggests that the pre-development plan include assessments of the current uses and viability of the interchange area, identification of market demand, provide unified look and identity for the area, provide design standards for future development and redevelopment and identify opportunity properties to acquire. The second step suggested by Truss is to establish a strategic acquisition fund of $500,000 to form the pre-development plan and the formation of the strategic acquisition fund. The fund will be there for the city to use in the event of an opportunity property becoming available. The fund will allow the council to strategically purchase property and move in on opportunities quickly due to having funds at hand.

The next item of discussion before the council during the study session is the 2023 rates for passes to the Tippecanoe Family Aquatic Center. At the previous council meeting, the council approved a resolution to allow City Manager Timothy Eggleston to sign a contract increasing the city’s payment to SwimSafe Pool Management for the maintenance of the Tippecanoe Family Aquatic Center from $246,167 to $307,750 due to increases in the price of pool chemicals and the company’s struggle with maintaining and attracting staff members.

Due to the new price of maintenance from SwimSafe, the council has decided to look into increasing pass costs to help offset the increases in the contract between the city and SwimSafe. Staff is recommending that passes for residents be increased by $15 and non-resident passes be increased by $20. The city is looking at approximately a $40,000 increase in costs to run and maintain the aquatic center and the increase in pass costs will help offset that increase by approximately $11,500.

Pass costs have essentially been the same since 2012, except in 2018 the city chose to make passes for residents and non-residents the same price. The new rates would mean the return of different costs for residents and non-residents, bringing the non-resident prices back to where they were before 2018 and slightly raising the cost for residents.

Even though these new rates will not completely offset the increase in costs, the city fears that increasing the rates too much will drive away pass holders and deter new guests. Staff will also be looking at concession prices and potentially raising them to further offset costs.

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