The Terre Haute City Council on Thursday approved a change in the city’s downtown redevelopment plan to include projects related to a convention center, new hotel and parking garages.

The council’s unanimous vote follows earlier approval by the city’s Redevelopment Commission and the Vigo County Area Plan Commission.

The resolution states that an estimated $18 million in projects would be funded by the commission from tax increment financing.

Brian Bosma, attorney for the Vigo County Capital Improvement Board, clarified that redevelopment funds would not be used on construction of a private hotel but rather on parking garage construction and possibly related utilities.

While financial consultants are still crunching the numbers, Bosma said “it is anticipated … and wouldn’t be out of the ordinary at all” that property taxes generated by the hotel would pay for related improvements.

The revised plan now goes back to the Redevelopment Commission for a public hearing and final action.

Also Thursday, the council approved an interlocal agreement for joint financing of the $32.5 million convention center.

The agreement pledges $10 million each from the city and county, $5 million from the Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau of Vigo County, $3 million from the city Redevelopment Commission and remaining funds from the Capital Improvement Board using food and beverage tax receipts.

The Redevelopment Commission is also pledging $500,000 in backup financing in the event the city is unable to meet its obligations, a provision that brought questions from Councilman Todd Nation, D-4th.

The county plans to issue $21 million in bonds for the convention center project, commission attorney Lou Britton explained in response. The backup financing is to ensure the city does not exceed its debt ceiling set by the state constitution.

“The city has indicated that they will reimburse the redevelopment commission annually the $500,000 that it is pledging toward the county’s bond obligation,” Britton said.

Steve Witt, redevelopment director, assured the council the department would “have more than enough” funds to carry out other obligations.

The financing agreement was previously approved by the Redevelopment Commission and will go before the Vigo County Council for approval in May.

During discussion of convention center matters, Councilman Earl Elliott, R-2nd, asked how large a group the city can currently accommodate outside of Hulman Center.

“There are things in the 100 to 300 range probably that we can’t accommodate,” Mayor Duke Bennett responded.

Bennett said such facilities have been lacking locally since a renovated Holiday Inn opened without its prior large meeting rooms.

The new 42,000-square-foot convention center will be able to handle meetings and banquets of up to 1,000 people.

In other action Thursday, the council found Sycamore Hotel Partners in substantial compliance with its 2010 tax abatement on its four-story, 83-room Holiday Inn Express hotel at Interstate 70 and Indiana 46.

Fox/Sycamore Hotel Partners also submitted documentation concerning its 2015 tax abatement for its nearby Home2 Suites hotel. However, the council did not act on whether it is in compliance because that hotel is still under construction.

Dave Taylor can be reached at 812-231-4299 or dave.taylor@tribstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @TribStarDave.

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