An unusually structured special assessment arrangement cleared the Metro Council Tuesday night, allowing for the construction of infrastructure to accommodate a $300 million suburban-style mixed-use development in Bellevue.
“This is the first time to my knowledge that it’s been done in Tennessee,” Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling said, “where you use this statute to create a special assessment district that’s going to allow for the infrastructure of a major development to be built on the front end.”
A Texas development group has proposed the sprawling Biltmore Ridges on portions of 1,140 acres it owns in Bellevue near the Interstate 40 and McCrory Lane interchange.
The project would be massive, spanning about 1,000 acres. Plans include 441 single-family homes, 576 townhomes, 380 multi-family units, 236,500 square feet of office space, 521,000 square feet of retail space, 10,500 square feet of restaurant space and a hotel.
Before it gets to that stage, the developers want to address various infrastructure improvements totaling $18.2 million –– which the council’s unanimous vote on a resolution Tuesday likely achieves. Metro’s Industrial Development Board (IDB) still needs to sign off on the plan.
Needed upgrades include the relocation and undergrounding of electrical lines; a new water line; McCrory Lane road improvements; and the construction of a water tank.
A state statute allows public infrastructure improvements to be paid by a special assessment levied on the properties benefiting from the improvement, according to council attorney Jon Cooper’s legal analysis.
In this case, the IDB would issue bonds that would be paid off by special assessments –– essentially an added tax –– on parcels within the new development. The principal amount of the bonds is estimated at $28.2 million. The developer currently owns all 10 of the parcels.
“There’s no real exposure to the city,” Riebeling said. “[Metro] Public Works convinced me early on that this infrastructure is really critical for the development out there.”
Tuesday’s meeting marked the first for the newly elected Metro Council, which features 17 new members.
Because it was the first meeting of the new council term, all ordinances that came before the council arrived on the first of three required votes. By council rule, all ordinances clear the council without debate on first reading. Thus, it was a quiet meeting Tuesday, with no deliberation.